Bharatiya Janata Party MP Gautam Gambhir’s foundation stocked and distributed Fabiflu, a medicine used for the treatment of Covid-19, in an unauthorised manner, the Drug Control Department of Delhi told the High Court on Thursday, Bar and Bench reported.
On May 24, the High Court had directed the drug controller to conduct an inquiry into allegations that Gambhir hoarded Covid medicines, while Aam Aadmi Party MLAs Priti Tomar and Praveen Kumar acquired oxygen cylinders amid crippling shortage of the live-saving supplies during the devastating second wave of the pandemic.
The court had ordered the drugs controller of Delhi to submit a status report in the matter. During a hearing on May 31, the court rejected that report and pulled up the department for carrying out a questionable investigation in the case. The drugs controller was asked to submit a better report by Thursday.
Advocate Nandita Rao, appearing for the Drug Control Department of Delhi, told the court on Thursday that the Gautam Gambhir Foundation committed an offense under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
Rao added that the foundation purchased over 2,000 strips of the medicine, even though it did not have a valid license to stock or distribute it. The lawyer added that appropriate action will be taken in the matter.
Rao told the court that the Gautam Gambhir Foundation also procured oxygen cylinders, which were refilled and given to patients in coordination with doctors from Garg Hospital.
The bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said, “Gautam Gambhir has procured [medical supplies] in public spirit and has spent a lot of money in procuring it. But at what cost? You did charity no doubt. But you also caused shortage and inconvenience”.
The judges said that “creating popularity and preparing for the next election” should not be the motivation for doing charity work, according to Live Law. “That’s why we want you [the drugs controller] to take action so that it becomes a lesson for others,” the court said.
The court observed that Fabiflu medicine was not available to patients for nearly two weeks during the health crisis.
Rao also informed the court that AAP MLA Praveen Kumar was found guilty of hoarding oxygen cylinders. The court, then, directed the drugs controller to submit a report on the action taken against the politicians within six weeks.
Last month, the Delhi High Court had observed that leaders of political parties should not stock up medicines used for treating Covid-19 patients amid shortages.
Earlier in May, the Delhi Police had questioned Gambhir, the AAP MLAs, All India Youth Congress President Srinivas BV and other political leaders for alleged black-marketing and illegal distribution of Covid-19 supplies. Later, they cleared the politicians, telling the Delhi High Court that there was no proof of fraud against them and that they were “actually helping people”.
India struggled with an acute shortage of medicines and oxygen in the second wave of Covid. It forced families and friends of patients to plead for help on social media. The Opposition has heavily criticised the Centre for the crippling shortages. The courts have also pulled up the government for the same.