The Delhi’s drug control department Thursday told the Delhi High Court that they have decided not to prosecute the good samaritans who have procured and distributed oxygen without any wrongful intention in the national capital during the second wave of COVID-19. A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh appreciated the stand taken by the department saying a very fair approach has been taken on the issue. “This is the right approach,” it said.
The high court said no further orders are required to be passed in the matter and disposed of a petition seeking lodging of an FIR on the allegations that politicians are able to procure in huge quantities and distribute COVID-19 medicines even as patients were running from pillar to post to get them.
An application was also filed in the pending petition making allegations of procuring and distributing oxygen cylinders during the second wave of the pandemic.
Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, said they have decided not to launch any prosecution against those social organisations, individuals and gurdwaras which had procured and distributed medical oxygen to COVID-19 patients free of cost and without any wrongful intention. He said a draft policy has also been formed in this regard which has been accepted and approved by the concerned authorities. He added that the pandemic is not yet over and if prosecution is launched in such cases, no good Samaritan would come forward in future to help the needy due to fear of being punished.
The counsel also said the department would also withdraw the prosecution launched against those who had procured and distributed medical oxygen to people during the second wave of COVID-19.
The high court had earlier taken strong exception to target and prosecute leaders of a particular political party who as good samaritans arranged oxygen for the patients when both the Centre and Delhi government failed to provide sufficient medical oxygen to people of the national capital during the second wave of COVID-19.
It was very unfortunate that a human tragedy has been used for political capital, the high court had observed while coming down heavily on the Delhi’s drug control department for launching prosecution against AAP MLA Praveen Kumar for procuring oxygen cylinders and distributing it to the COVID-19 patients.
It had said if the drug controller chooses to proceed against one person for procuring and distributing medical oxygen, it shall also prosecute all the gurdwaras, temples, churches, social organisations and other people who had procured and distributed oxygen during the second wave of COVID-19.
It had also distinguished this case with that of cricketer-turned-politician and BJP leader Gautam Gambhir who had procured, stocked and distributed huge quantity of fabiflu medicine to COVID-19 patients. The reason for picking Gambhir’s case was that he was very irresponsibly holding the COVID-19 medicines in huge quantity. He may have had the best of intentions but this is not allowed, it had said.
The high court was informed by the counsel for drug controller that prosecution has been launched against Gautam Gambhir Foundation, and AAP MLA Imran Hussain Kumar for alleged violations under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and a trial court had on July 28 taken cognisance of the issue and issued summons to them for August 26. Member of Parliament Gautam Gambhir is one of the trustees of the foundation.