Delhi police report on politicians ‘hoarding’ COVID-19 medicine ‘vague’, says HC
‘These people have no business in buying and hoarding the medicines in the name of getting some goodwill,’ says Bench.
The Delhi High Court on Monday termed as “vague and whitewashed” an interim report submitted by the police exonerating politicians, including BJP MP Gautam Gambhir, alleged to have been hoarding COVID-19 medicines during the ongoing pandemic. The court took strong exception to the police’s report which said that the politicians were “actually helping people in getting medical aid”.
“What is the point of this kind of vague and whitewashed report. Point is some political leader is openly advertising that he will provide the medicine free of cost then you have to find out where is he getting these medicines from. Does he hold a licence to distribute the medicine,” a Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli remarked.
Report sought in a week
“Just because some political figures are involved, there is no reason not to investigate,” the High Court said directing the Delhi police to submit within a week a fresh status report explaining how the COVID-19 drug which was in such short supply in the market was procured by a “few persons”.
When police’s counsel sought six weeks to submit the status report, the court rejected the plea. “We will not accept this position. We mean business. This is completely unacceptable.
Political parties have no business to convert this pandemic into a selling point,” it observed. “How can the politicians purchase the drug in the name of Mr. A and then give it to Mr.
B. They are saying, you come to us and we will give it to you free of cost,” the Bench noted. DCP Rajesh Deo, who was present during the videoconferencing hearing, said that distribution of medicines fall under the Drugs and Cosmetic Act.
The DCP said Mr. Gambhir had procured the drugs Tab Fabiflu through a doctor.
‘Surrender drug stock’
After the High Court was told that out of 2,628 strips of Tab Fabiflu bought by Gautam Gambhir Foundation through one Dr. Manish of Garg Hospital, 2,343 strips had been distributed, the court said the politician should surrender the remaining stock of the drug with the Director General of Health Services.
“It is difficult to accept that any doctor will go to the market and buy such large quantity of medicines which is being sold in black. How did he get it when there is such huge shortage…How many people have died because of lack of these medicines, do you realise that,” the court remarked. “These people have no business in buying and hoarding the medicines in the name of getting some goodwill, while others are getting these medicines at all kinds of prices,” the Bench said, posting the case for further hearing on May 24.
In its interim status report, Delhi police said that its investigation against politicians alleged to have been hoarding COVID-19 medicines and oxygen cylinders had found that they were “actually helping people in getting medical aid”. In an affidavit filed before the High Court, the Delhi Police said its inquiry so far had found that All India Youth Congress president Srinivas B.V., Congress leaders Chaudhary Anil Kumar, Mukesh Sharma, Ali Mehdi, Ashok Baghel, and BJP leaders Harish Khurana and Gautam Gambhir, had not charged any money for the help they provided. “Thus no one has been defrauded,” Delhi police said.
The police’s status report came in response to a petition sought a probe into claims of politicians being able to procure and distribute Remdesivir, used for treating COVID-19 patients.
The petition questioned how politicians were able to procure large stocks of the medicine without having the requisite permission under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, when the general public was not getting it.