COVID-19 Drug Hoarding Row: SC Refuses to Hear Gautam Gambhir's Plea

A two-judge bench noted that they would stop the legal proceedings in the matter.

2 min read
File image of BJP MP Gautam Gambhir. 

The Supreme Court on Monday, 26 July, refused to hear a plea filed by the Gautam Gambhir Foundation against the Delhi High Court's order on the alleged hoarding of COVID-19 medicines by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP amid the second wave of COVID.

A bench, comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah, noted that they would stop the legal proceedings in the matter as it "cannot allow a trust, or group of people, to distribute medicines, while people run helter-skelter for drugs".

"Individuals cannot distribute drugs. We saw how the common man was suffering. This cannot be done. Do you want us to go into merits?" it asked, reported LiveLaw.

However, the two-judge bench said that Gambhir could take his plea for remedy before the high court.

Appearing for the former cricketer, senior advocate Kailash Vasudev had submitted that he was offering relief to people. After the apex court's dismissal, the counsel sought permission to withdraw the plea with liberty to approach the high court.

What Had Happened

On 21 April, the cricketer-turned-politician had tweeted that Fabiflu – a steroid being prescribed to treat COVID patients – was available for free at a specified East Delhi location.

The anti-viral drug used to treat COVID-19 patients had been in short supply and the politician purchased a thousands of strips of the medicine while others who needed it failing to do so had caused much outrage.

What the HC Had Said

The Delhi High Court had questioned if the East Delhi MP had licence to procure and distribute Fabiflu in large quantities.

“We have already said it is a malpractice. This tendency of people trying to take advantage and then trying to appear as a saviour when they themselves created the problem has to be denounced. And then the person goes on to state he would do it again. If it continues, we know how to deal with it,” the bench said in a statement.

However, the Drug Control Department submitted a report to the court stating that the distribution was an exception under mentioned in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh had then severely criticised the drug controller for not examining how the MP Gautam Gambhir procured large quantities of Fabiflu in May.

“You (drug controller) are wrong to say it was not in short supply. You want us to shut our eyes. You think you would get away with this,” the HC bench said, according to PTI.

(With inputs from PTI and LiveLaw)

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