UPDATED: April 22, 2021 12:02 IST
The Bombay HC on Wednesday pulled up the Maharashtra government for not complying with its earlier order directing the supply of 10,000 vials of Remdesivir, the anti-viral drug, to Covid-19 hospitals in Nagpur.
The Nagpur bench noted that it was ashamed to be a part of this “nasty and evil society” and was unable to do anything for the coronavirus patients of Maharashtra.
A division bench of Justices S B Shukre and S M Modak said, “If you do not feel ashamed of yourself, then we feel ashamed of being a part of this nasty society. We cannot do anything for the unfortunate patients of Maharashtra. This is how we are shirking from our responsibilities. You are neglecting and ignoring our patients. We give you a solution, you do not follow it. You do not give us a solution. What absolute nonsense is going on here!”
The Bombay HC added, “This life-saving drug not being made available is violating the fundamental rights of people. It is now clear that these authorities are shirking responsibilities.”
Senior advocate MG Bhangde, appearing for the Maharashtra government, submitted two affidavits to the court filed by the Joint Commissioner (FDA) and the Additional Collector, Nagpur. After perusing the same, the bench noted that they have made contradictory statements on why the order could not be complied with.
The bench was hearing a bunch of petitions on the issue of the pandemic, lack of medical facilities in hospitals and the hurdles being faced by affected people.
“If he (Commissioner) is not the procurement agency for the vaccine, then whose bloody business is it?,” Justice Shukre said.
He called upon the Collector or any officer from his department to remain present for getting answers to their questions.
“You are saying that you are not in a position to comply with the order. Then what is the solution according to you? You are saying there was stock, but not available for Nagpur. How come Thane gets more and Nagpur gets less cannot be explained,” Justice Shukre retorted.
“We thought this order would have supported you in procuring the vials. But instead, you are defending their actions. You are siding with the officers of Mumbai and Nagpur people are left high and dry. Not just Nagpur, but other cities in Maharashtra as well,” the court said.
The court stated that its intention was not to take harsh action against anyone but to ensure that citizens do not suffer.
“We cannot let officers continue to shirk their responsibilities,” the court observed.
The bench directed the court-appointed Nagpur Covid-19 Committee constituted last year, to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday itself and respond positively. They were directed to hold a meeting with the managers of the deposit of the manufacturing committees and distributors.
The bench also took note of a recent incident in Mumbai where police unearthed alleged malpractice where the director of a Gujarat-based company was trying to sell 60,000 vials of Remdesivir outside India despite a ban on export.
The bench noted that such incidents would only indicate the possibility of indulgence in malpractices by some unscrupulous dealers, suppliers, and manufacturers. It was always advisable for the authorities to take precautions and periodical checks, the court said.
The Bombay HC also asked the Nagpur police to carry out periodical checks, surprise raids, and inspections to stop such malpractices.