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HC pulls up drug controller for action against AAP MLA distributing oxygen

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 29, 2021

Can you proceed against all Good Samaritans, it asks

The Delhi High Court on Thursday pulled up the Drug Controller in Delhi for prosecuting Aam Aadmi Party MLA Praveen Kumar for distributing free medical oxygen during the second surge of Covid-19 when both the Centre and the Delhi government had failed to provide adequate supply.

The Court, however, made a distinction between “good Samaritans” who were distributing free oxygen and those, including cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir against whom action has been initiated for allegedly hoarding Covid-19 drugs.

Terming it as an action against a particular political party, the Court said if the same reasoning applies, then the gurudwaras and the temples, which were also distributing free oxygen, should also be proceeded against.

“How can you prosecute him? The State – both the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) and the Union, failed in providing sufficient oxygen to people in Delhi. There were some samaritans who provided oxygen. You can’t prosecute them,” a division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said.

‘Clarify stance’

The bench granted time to the drug controller to clear its stand on whether it wishes to prosecute all such persons who had procured or distributed medical oxygen for free to the needy Covid-19 patients and listed the matter for further hearing on August 5.

The Court referred to its previous order in which it was observed that the issue of medical oxygen is technical and different from the issue of hoarding Covid-19 medicines. “Had we not said that you will not proceed against oxygen? If this is the way you are going to proceed, then you proceed against half of Delhi and also proceed against all the gurdwaras. How can you take such a hyper technical view?” the bench asked, adding that the purpose is to help the society without causing any damage to others.

‘Not like holding drugs’

The Court said the case of supplying oxygen was different from Gautam Gambhir procuring, stocking and distributing huge quantity of the drug fabiflu to Covid-19 patients.

“The reason for picking Gambhir’s case was that he was very irresponsibly holding Covid-19 medicines in huge quantity. He may have had the best of intentions but this is not allowed,” it said.

Published on July 29, 2021

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