The Gujarat High Court on Monday asked the state government not to scare the public using provisions of a tough law against anti-social activities for possessing a few Remdesivir injections, while passing off the act of a political party distributing 5,000 vials of the COVID-19 drug to be in "accordance with the law".
The Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) Act is generally used against habitual offenders. Under the Act, habitual offenders can be held in preventive detention on orders of district magistrate for up to one year.
Hearing the plea of one Mitesh Thakkar, a doctor from Vadodara who apprehends detention under the PASA Act on the basis of an FIR filed for alleged black marketing of Remdesivir, Justice Paresh Upadhyay observed that if the government is going to handle the situation arising out of the second wave of COVID-19 like this, then where will the public go.
"If you are doing this qua (in capacity of) one or two injections, then I will have to ask the question of 5,000 injections. If a political party wants to do charity in good faith (by distributing injections to the needy), then everything is in accordance with law? And PASA for two Remdesivir injections concerning a doctor?" he asked.
Justice Upadhyay was apparently referring to BJP leaders distributing Remdesivir injections free of cost to the needy persons in Surat and Navsari districts during the height of the COVID-19 second wave in April.
A PIL was then filed against the "unauthorised distribution" of the anti-COVID-19 drug and the matter is being heard by a different bench of the HC. Last month, the Gujarat government had told the bench that no law appears to have been violated.
Recalling the devastating second wave, Justice Upadhyay said everybody was scared during that period and made arrangements for getting Remdesivir injections from wherever they could.
"We are serving PASA to the doctors who might have offered injections (to the needy patient)...Don't scare the public. This is going out of control, increasing anarchy. Should we handle situations arising out of a second wave like this? Where will the public go?'' he said.
The petitioner's lawyer submitted before the HC that his client is a practicing doctor, and because one Ramdesivir injunction was found from a co-accused (in black marketing case), an FIR was lodged at a police station in Vadodara wherein the petitioner was not even named.
One person has already been detained under PASA in this case, the lawyer said.
The court ordered that the detention order, if any, passed against the petitioner shall not be executed till the next date of hearing, which was fixed on July 30.
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