The Delhi High Court on Monday said leaders of political parties should not stock up on medicines used for treating Covid-19 patients amid shortages being reported from across the country, reported Bar and Bench.

The bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said that politicians had no business to hoard the medications when citizens were suffering and frantically searching for the drugs. “If their intention is to do public good, then they should surrender the same to Director General of Health Services (DGHS) who will then distribute it to government hospitals,” the court said.

The court also took exception to the stocks in possession of Bharatiya Janata Party MP Gautam Gambhir. “How did he [Gambhir] get such large quantities from chemists during such shortages?” the court asked, according to Bar and Bench. To this, the Delhi Police counsel said the stock would be seized.

However, the court said it would not direct seizure of the medical supplies, adding that it hoped the stocks were not acquired for political gains.

Gambhir, the East Delhi MP, had distributed Fabiflu medicines and oxygen concentrators free of cost.

“We hope and expect Delhi Police to conduct proper investigation and if a case is made out, we expect them to register the FIR [first information report] as well. DCP [deputy commissioner of police] seeks one week time to examine the matter and file a status report,” the High Court said, according to Live Law. “We issue notice in the application. This application should also be kept in view while conducting investigation in the matter.”

The court also asked the authorities to specifically note in the status report how the medicines were procured in such large quantities.

“Just because some political figures are involved, is no reason to not investigate,” Justice Sanghi told the Delhi Police during the hearing. “Your force should stand up and investigate. You have a duty to the people, your force has to understand this. People all over are suffering.”

The court pulled up Delhi Police for “vague and whitewashing” investigation and said it should have looked into specific allegations, The Indian Express reported. “If some political leader is advertising some medicine free of cost, where is he getting it from?” the court said. “There are reports of shortages in supply. Does he hold a license to hoard and distribute? How can you be so slack about it?”

The Delhi High Court also asked the drug controller to be made a party in the case.

The court had taken up Dr Deepak Singh’s petition, alleging hoarding of medicines by political leaders. The plea also sought an inquiry into a nexus between the medical mafia and politicians.

In a status report filed before the Delhi High Court on Saturday, the Crime Branch said that Srinivas BV, Gambhir and seven other politicians offered help to Covid-19 patients voluntarily and without discrimination.

Plea on compensating patients who died due to oxygen shortage

The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the central and the Aam Aadmi Party government to treat as a representation a petition that sought framing of guidelines to compensate the families of those who died due to oxygen shortage in Delhi hospitals, reported PTI.

The High Court directed the Union and state governments to decide the rules, regulations and policies applicable to the case. A bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said that granting compensation would be a government policy, adding that courts could not interfere in the matter.

The plea was therefore disposed of, with the judges saying that a practicable decision should be taken.

The petitioner had called for compensation from the National Disaster Response Fund or the PM CARES Fund for the families who had no way to sustain themselves after losing a family member during the Covid-19 crisis.