Certain unprecedented measures needed to deter unscrupulous people from indulging in black marketing of life saving drug, observed Bombay High Court

  • Ratna Singh
  • 06:23 PM, 30 Apr 2021

The Bombay High Court (Nagpur bench) yesterday comprising Division Bench of Justices Z.A Haq and Amit B. Borker while hearing a suo moto criminal application regarding black marketing of Remdesivir Injections observed that,

“The second wave of Covid-19 situations is worsening day-by-day in the country and also in the Vidarbha region. The situation appears to be worst in Nagpur District. Due to the sudden surge of Covid-19 cases, neither the manufacturers of the medicines nor the authorities entrusted with the work of distribution of medicines were prepared for such situation resulting into unscrupulous people taking advantage of such situation. The demand supply ratio of the Remdesivir Injection, which is a life saving drug is exponentially inverse.

 Due to the huge demand and lack of supply of Remdesivir Injections, the people in urgent need and in particular the lower strata of society are unable to get the life saving drug at market price. Though the Government and concerned Authorities are taking steps to procure Remdesivir Injections, it appears that the situation is worsening day-by-day. The concerned Authorities are trying their best to regulate the supply of Remdesivir Injections by issuing policy directives to make available Remdesivir Injections”.

The bench was informed that, a newspaper report in daily Hitavada (CityLine) dated 28/04/2021 published a news of arrest of 32 persons including a Doctor for black marketing of Remdesivir Injections. The newspaper report noted that due to rise in demand of Remdesivir Injections, many persons related to the hospitals are indulged in black marketing of life saving drug.

The bench observed that,

“During such crisis, certain persons involved in supply of the medicines or having access to medicines are trying to exploit the needy patients by selling such medicines at astronomical prices. Since the lives of the needy patients are at stake, the relatives of such patients are ready to pay any amount to save the lives of their loved ones. Since the buyers at such astronomical price are concerned only about the lives of their loved ones, such cases are seldomly reported to the Law Enforcement Agency. It is therefore necessary to initiate measures to deter such unscrupulous persons from indulging in black marketing of life saving drug like Remdesivir Injection. Therefore we appreciate the initiative of the Police in taking action in the matter.”

The Court further observed that,

“In such crisis situation, the Courts cannot be mute spectator and cannot turn Nelson’s eye to such incidents which are reported in the newspaper. To send strong signals to people who may indulge in black marketing of life saving drug, it is necessary that the investigation and trial of people accused of black marketing of life saving drug should be taken to conclusion and one of the effective way is to ensure that the trial is completed in swift manner.”

The court therefore called upon Shri T.A. Mirza, learned APP to take instructions in regard to the newspaper report referred above. Further, Shri T.A. Mirza, learned APP, in view of the urgency involved, took instructions from the Commissioner of Police, Nagpur. The Commissioner of Police, Nagpur appeared before this Court via video conferencing and submitted that all the necessary steps in accordance with law shall be taken and in some cases, charge-sheets shall be filed by Monday i.e. 03/05/2021.

In exercise of its inherent powers under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to secure the ends of justice, the bench after considering the reasons stated above, ordered that the contents of the newspaper report referred above needed to be registered as Suo Motu Criminal Application.

“Office is directed to register the aforesaid newspaper report as Suo Motu Criminal Application”

The matter will be next taken up on, 04/05/2021.

[inputs from The Free Press Journal]

Case title - Court on its own motion v. State & ors