Srinagar: With government revealing that 83 more drugs have been found substandard in Jammu and Kashmir, a Division Bench of the J&K High Court has directed the state to show what action has been taken against the pharmaceutical companies responsible for marketing the drugs in the state.
Passing directions in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the division bench of Justices Hasnain Massodi and Ali Mohammad Magrey also directed government to file fresh status report, indicating action taken on a report submitted by Farooq Ahmad Peer (Commissioner Secretary Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department) regarding departmental inquiry against all the delinquent officers involved in purchase of the spurious drugs.
As the hearing in the PIL filed by Doctors Association Kashmir through its present Dr Nissar-ul-Hassan started, Advocate General M I Qadri referred to compliance report filed by the Drug Inspectors of the state, submitting that 3047 drug samples have been found to conform to the standard and 83 samples as substandard.
Qadri also informed the court that the enquiry report by Farooq Ahmad Peer stands submitted to General Administration Department for follow up action.
In compliance to an order on March 13 last, the Advocate General also informed that out of 84 posts of Drug Inspectors in the state, only 12 of them are to be filled as on date.
Subsequent to the submissions by the Advocate General and perusal of the compliance reports, the court directed the respondents to file fresh status reports, indicating the action taken against the pharmaceutical companies found to have marketed the 83 substandard drugs. The court also sought status about the fate of 293 more samples which have been lifted by the Drug Inspectors but have either not tested or reports in respect of some of them are awaited.
“The respondents shall file fresh status report, indicting the steps taken to fill up the 12 vacant posts of drug Inspectors as also action taken on the enquiry report submitted by F A Peer to the GAD,” the court said.
In another direction, the court also directed government to file status about the progress made towards setting up new Additional Drug Analysis Laboratories and augmenting the existing infrastructure in the state.
Meanwhile, the court also allowed submission by Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO) regarding filing of fresh status report about the prosecution against pharmaceutical companies who were found to have marketed substandard drugs in the state.
The CDSCO had drawn 256 samples from J&K in April last year following surfacing of the drug scam involving supply of spurious drugs to hospitals and other establishments in the state.
Out of these samples, 110 were taken from Kashmir and rest from Jammu. 49 samples were handed over to CDL Kolkata and remaining 107 to RDTL Chandigarh. Of the 256 drugs, 27 were found substandard.
However, court observed, prosecution against none of the manufacturers, chemists or retail outlets, has been launched till date.
“The (CDSCO) has felt satisfied with taking some administrative steps like cancelling the drug manufacturing license, and issuance of show cause notice etc. The action does not satisfy the requirement of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940,” the court said, underlining that in terms of Section 27 of the Act, prosecution is to be launched against the erring pharmaceutics companies, chemists or retail outlets.
“If the allegations are proved, all those responsible for manufacturing, marketing or transportation of the spurious or substandard drugs are to be punished. Section 27 prescribes punishment of 10 years imprisonment extendable up to life imprisonment,” the court said, adding, “In (this) backdrop, mere administrative action would not suffice.”
Following the observation by the court, S A Makroo, Assistant Solicitor General of India stated that even if the samples have been lifted by CDSCO, the prosecution is to be launched by state government. However, Advocate General insists that prosecution in such cases is to be launched by the CDSCO and state that has to take action when samples are lifted by its Drug Inspectors. Following this, S A Makroo propose to come up with fresh status report. “He may do so with copy in advance to other side,” the court said and posted the PIL for further consideration on June 6 next.
he PIL was filed in the aftermath of drug scam involving supply of spurious drugs to hospitals in the state and seeks impartial and time-bound probe into entire scam and nabbing culprits involved in the commission of ‘heinous act’ among five other demands including constitution of an expert committee to look into condition of patients who were administered the spurious drug in order to compensate for the wrongful acts of the respondents.