Delhi HC objects to case against AAP MLA for distributing oxygen to COVID-19 patients

Delhi High Court. File  

The Delhi High Court on Thursday slammed the Drugs Control Department of Delhi for initiating proceedings against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Praveen Kumar for procuring and distributing oxygen cylinders during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh said they could not permit prosecution of good Samaritans for helping society at a time when the authorities had failed to provide oxygen.

“If you initiate prosecution like this, you will have to pick up half the gurdwaras, temples, churches and all political parties as well. We won’t allow this,” the High Court remarked, adding it was “unfortunate that a tragedy is being used for political capital”.

The High Court, however, drew a distinction between the AAP MLA’s case and that of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from the East Delhi constituency Gautam Gambhir, who had procured, stocked and distributed a large quantity of the FabiFlu medicine to COVID-19 patients.

The High Court remarked that Mr. Gambhir had “irresponsibly hoarded medicines” when people did not have access to them. Though Mr. Gambhir’s intentions were “in the right place, it is not allowed”, the High Court noted.

The HC gave time to the Drugs Control Department of Delhi to clear its stand on whether it wished to prosecute all such persons who had procured or distributed medical oxygen free of cost to needy COVID-19 patients and listed the case for further hearing on August 5.

“Had we not said that you will not proceed against oxygen? If this is the way you are going to proceed, then you proceed against half of Delhi and also proceed against all the gurdwaras. How can you take such a hyper technical view?” the Bench asked.

The High Court was informed by the Drugs Control Department of Delhi’s counsel that prosecution had been launched against the Gautam Gambhir Foundation and AAP MLA Imran Hussain Kumar for alleged violations under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, and a trial court had on July 28 taken cognisance of the issue and issued summons to them for August 26.

Senior advocate Kailash Vasudev, representing Mr. Gambhir, urged the High Court to grant him a hearing as he wished to make certain clarifications. He also requested the High Court to clarify in its order that the adverse observations made against Mr Gambhir at the HC would not be used against him before the trial court at which prosecution had been initiated against him.

The High Court made it clear that the observations made by it earlier in these hearings would not come in the way of proceedings in the trial court.

The Delhi HC was hearing a petition seeking the lodging of an FIR on allegations that politicians were able to procure COVID-19 medicines in huge quantities and distribute them even as patients were running from pillar to post to get them.

Earlier, the Drugs Control Department of Delhi had told the High Court that the Gambhir Foundation had been found guilty of unauthorised stocking, procurement and distribution of the FabiFlu medicine to COVID-19 patients.

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Printable version | Sep 22, 2021 10:54:55 PM |

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