Gujarat BJP President gets relief in Remdesivir distribution case

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Gujarat BJP President gets relief in Remdesivir distribution case

|gujrart | Updated: May 7, 2022 17:31

The Gujarat BJP President who was being legally hounded by political opponents for ‘’illegal’’ distribution of Remdesivir from Surat party office during the second wave of COVID, got relief from the Gujarat High Court today.

The matter was being heard as a Public Interest Litigation by a division bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice A.J. Shastri.  It was last year that Amreli Congress MLA Paresh Dhanani moved court contending that the Remdesivir injection had been distributed illegally from the Surat BJP office.  He said that this was done at a time the country was facing an acute shortage of the antiviral drug.

Justice Aravind Kumar expressed the opinion that the distribution did not appear to be illegal. He said that Remdesivir manufacturers had been instructed to supply 60 per cent of its production to the government and 40 per cent to private distributors.

In April last year, Gujarat BJP President and Navsari MP, C. R. Paatil and MLA Harsh Sanghvi announced that the BJP would give 5,000 Remdesivir injections free of cost to needy patients from the party office in Surat. They said that 500-1,000 injections would be distributed everyday.

The Gujarat BJP President had requested the Gujarat High Court to dismiss the public-interest petition seeking an inquiry into the “illegal” distribution of Remdesivir by him and the party’s Majura MLA during the second wave of COVID.

Advocate-general Kamal Trivedi, representing the state government, said that the antiviral injections distributed from the Surat BJP office were from the 40% allocated for the private sector and that the party was merely facilitating the distribution.

“The pendency of the PIL  (Public Interest Litigation) is being misused by the petitioner (Congress MLA Paresh Dhanani), who is an arch political rival of respondents 3 and 4 (Paatil and Sanghavi). The PIL is as such not maintainable as per rules of the High Court and in the coming days, it will be used as a bugle,” senior advocate Nirupam Nanavaty, appearing for Paatil, submitted on Thursday.

Nanavaty argued that the petition was non-maintainable because it relies on “newspaper reports, unverified newspaper and media reports”. He said that Paatil and Sanghavi “made their effort to see to it that Remdesivir injections are acquired and disbursed to needy persons with the assistance of doctors”.

It is worth noting that the FDCA had conducted an inquiry and given a clean chit to the BJP and its workers, stating that “there does not appear to be any violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1960, or any other provisions under any other law”.

On Thursday, advocate-general Kamal Trivedi, representing the state government, reiterated the FDCA stance before the bench of Chief Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice A.J. Shastri.

“Our inquiry reveals it (the distribution) was out of that 40 per cent (private quota) and the donors made the payment and the distribution took place in the presence of the distributors. Our conclusion is, these people (Paatil and Sanghavi) have never acquired and never distributed [any drug]. They were facilitating, that’s all. There’s no black marketing. Payment is in cheques,” said Trivedi.

In his petition, Dhanani demanded that an expert committee of “highly distinguished and neutral persons” be constituted to inquire into the incident and submit a report to the court. He also requested the Court to take action on the basis of the report. He invoked provisions of the Pharmacy Act of 1984, Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940, Disaster Management Act of 2005, and Epidemic Diseases Act of 1987.

The Congress leader also wanted the High Court to direct state authorities including the Surat Collector, city Police Commissioner and the Food and Drug Control Administration (FDCA) to ensure that such acquisition and distribution of Remdesivir injections by “the office of a political party or any other place which does not have registration and licence…does not happen in future”.

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