High Court Suggests Appointing Officers For Celebs Helping With Covid Drugs

The bench was hearing a bunch of public interest litigations (PILs) on several issues related to containing the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

High Court Suggests Appointing Officers For Celebs Helping With Covid Drugs

Bench was hearing pleas on several issues related to containing Covid spread in Maharashtra

Mumbai:

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday said the state should consider appointing nodal officers to contact film stars and politicians who were helping citizens procure Remdesivir and other drugs required for the treatment of COVID-19.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni also directed the Union government's counsel, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, to arrange for a meeting via video-conference between an official each of the Maharashtra government and the Centre to discuss the gap between the requirement and supply of Remdesivir in the state.

The bench was hearing a bunch of public interest litigations (PILs) on several issues related to containing the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

The state authorities told the bench that while Maharashtra's requirement was of 70,000 vials of Remdesivir per day, it had received only 45,000 vials per day so far.

However, the Union government's affidavit in the HC claimed that as on April 21 this year, a total of eight lakh vials of Remdesivir had been allocated to Maharashtra and the state had received 5,85,062 vials so far.

The HC said, "If there is a difference in the figures given by the Centre and the state, then a problem exists at the root level. Why can't an officer of the state and the Centre sit and discuss via video conferencing?"

It directed the Union government to inform the court by May 19, the next date of hearing, what has been done to address the shortage of Remdesivir in the state and to ensure manufacturers identified for the state were providing the requisite quantity.

Advocate Rajesh Inamdar, representing one of the petitioners, then told the HC that even as several hospitals in the state were running out of Remdesivir and other drugs like Tocilizumab, some celebrities and politicians were responding to citizens'' pleas made on Twitter and other social media platforms and helping them procure the medicines.

He said citizens were forced to approach the social media and tag celebrities or politicians for help.

"There is this film star who is helping people across the country. He is loved by everyone. People tag him on Twitter for help. They say he is even better than the government," Mr Inamdar said without taking any name.

There is a video where the actor is asking if a patient needs Remdesivir or Tocilizumab, he noted.

"Is he a pharmacist? It's good that he is helping, but how are government hospitals not getting enough stock?" the advocate asked.

Mr Inamdar told the HC that Maharashtra had not received any stock of Tocilizumab since May 4 this year.

The state earlier said it had appointed nodal officers to keep an account of the procurement and distribution of Remdesivir and other drugs in state-run, municipal and private hospitals and health centres.

To this, the HC said, "Why don't you appoint nodal officers for film stars and politicians? They (stars and politicians) will have blessings of God. If they are helping people, we will not come in their way. But, why not appoint nodal officers to ensure help reaches all those in need."

The HC also said the nodal officers must check if any one, including celebrities or politicians, was indulging in illegal procurement, black-marketing, or hoarding of such drugs.

"We are here to do justice in accordance with law. We cannot go against the law," the court said.

Anjali Navle, the counsel for another petitioner, said if celebrities and politicians want to help, why can't they give that stock to the government?

"I say so because there are instances of adulteration of Remdesivir," she said.

The HC then asked the state and the Union government to file their affidavits on the issue.

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