The Bombay High Court on Thursday said in order to deter unscrupulous persons from indulging in black marketing of life-saving drugs like Remdesivir, police and courts should ensure that probe and trial in such cases are completed swiftly.
The Nagpur bench of the HC said the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening day by day in the country and the situation appears to be the worst in Nagpur.
A division bench of Justices ZA Haq and AB Borkar took suo motu (on its own) notice of a media report pertaining to the arrest of 32 persons, including a doctor, on charges of black marketing Remdesivir in Nagpur on Wednesday.
The anti-viral drug, widely used to treat critical coronavirus patients, is in high demand nationwide after the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
The bench said while it appreciates the action taken by the police, the time consumed for investigation and completion of trials is not deterring some people from indulging in such activities.
In such a crisis situation, the courts cannot be mute spectator and cannot turn a Nelsons eye to such incidents, the bench said in its order.
To send strong signals to people who may indulge in black marketing of life-saving drugs, it is necessary that investigation and trial of such accused persons are taken to conclusion and one of the effective ways is to ensure that the trial is completed in a swift manner, it said.
The HC said due to a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases, neither the manufacturers of medicines nor the authorities entrusted with their distribution were prepared, resulting in unscrupulous people taking advantage of the situation.
The demand-supply ratio of the Remdesivir injection, which is considered to be a life-saving drug, is exponentially inverse, the order said.
During such a crisis, certain people involved in supply of medicines or having access to them are trying to exploit needy patients by selling such drugs at high prices, the judges said.
Since the lives of patients are at stake, the family of such patients are ready to pay any amount, they said.
The court said such cases are seldom reported to the police.
It is therefore necessary to initiate measures to deter such unscrupulous persons from indulging in black marketing of life-saving drugs like Remdesivir injections, the court said.
The HC was informed by the Nagpur police commissioner that in this particular case, where 32 persons have been arrested, the police would complete its probe and file a chargesheet by May 3.
The court accepted the statement and posted the matter for further hearing on May 4.