The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a PIL filed by former Ranbaxy executive and whistleblower Dinesh Thakur, seeking a direction to the drugs and health regulators in the country to enforce safety standards, create a framework for the recall of unsafe drugs and also an expert panel to examine faulty drug approvals.
The bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur, while dismissing the petitions as withdrawn, questioned the locus of the whistleblower. “An overseas citizen has to come all the way to challenge a rule. What is your locus?” the chief justice asked, adding that “bring a public person affected by the rule”.
On his official Twitter handle, petitioner Thakur said the Supreme Court refused to hear the cases on Friday and that he was “disappointed”. He declined to comment on reasons for the refusal when contacted by Reuters, saying he had not yet received a court order.
Meanwhile, during the hearing, the court also said there were serious issues pending before it and the court didn’t have time to take up “academic issues” raised by public activists for “unnecessary publicity”. “You are coming with academic issues when people are languishing in jails. Our hands are full. Unless the issue seriously affects anyone, we are not going to entertain it,” the SC bench observed, while giving liberty to the petitioner to approach other fora after his counsel Raju Ramachandran sought so.
However, the lawyer later said the bench’s remarks against the petition was “uncharitable”.
Alleging that current drugs laws are “unconstitutional”, Thakur, who had exposed dangerous practices in the drugs industry in 2013, had sought a series of reforms, including harsher prosecution for manufacturers found to be selling substandard medicines or obtaining marketing approvals illegally. He also alleged that responses provided to him by the government show how lax regulation can lead to potentially harmful medicines being sold in India without proper approvals.
“An overwhelming number of non-standard-quality drugs are not prosecuted in criminal cases since state drug controllers only impose minor administrative penalties on the offenders,” Thakur’s petition stated.
The former Ranbaxy executive had earned almost $48 million as a whistleblower award from the US three years ago, when US regulators fined Ranbaxy $500 million for violating federal drug safety laws and making false statements to the Food and Drug Administration.