The Maharashtra government has informed the Bombay High Court that investigations and registration of criminal complaints in cases involving celebrity Sonu Sood and Congress MLA Zeshaan Siddique have been initiated for procuring Remdesivir vials which are used for Covid patients.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said it was found that Siddiqui was helping people with the help of a trust named BDR foundation. The trust did not have the required permission to supply the drugs. The Maharashtra government said that a criminal case has been filed at the Mazgaon Magistrate’s Court against the trust and the trustee, Dheer Shah. A pharmaceuticals company and its 4 directors have been booked as well.
However, the bench of Justice SP Deshmukh and Justice GS Kulkarni asked if the case was registered against Siddiqui as well. Kumbhakoni said, “As of now, the case is not registered against the MLA as he merely diverted those who approached him to the trust.”
Justice Kulkarni then asked, “But all this happened at the behest of one person. To direct someone is not an offence? Examine this before we pass order”
With regards to actor Sonu Sood helping patients with Remdesivir vials, the Maharashtra government said that during the investigation they were directed “from A to B, and then from B to C and we finally ended up at shops inside Lifeline Medicare Hospital. It had come from Cipla in Bhiwandi. This is what we know so far. This is outside government allocation. An inquiry is pending.”
Remdesivir, among other medicines, is directly procured by the central government and then allocated to various states depending on the coronavirus caseload. Thus, private persons procuring and distributing it should not have happened according to government rules.
Justice Kulkarni said, “In both the situations, when the personalities were directly dealing with the public at large, was there any reasonable basis for the common man to know the drugs were available with either BDR Foundation or Lifeline? These people projected themselves as some kind of messiahs without verifying if the drugs were spurious or if the supply was legal. In both these cases, we expect the state government to scrutinize their actions. Because without their actions, it was impossible for any person to know that these are the suppliers. We want you to very seriously examine the role of these two and whatever you want to say in the affidavit please say so.”
The court further added, “What is the public perception? In reality, the government is taking all the efforts to procure the drug. But they tell the public at large we are doing this, but you are a parallel agency, totally unauthorized. This is very easy. Tomorrow anyone will go to social media and say the government is not coming to your help, we are.”
The bench asked the union government to say if they have found out anything on the issue. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh said that they have spoken to the manufacturers who said that they had given the allotted vials of medicine to states and so it was for them to investigate the issue.