NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said no state government or its pharmacy council can be allowed to play with the life of people as it was alleged that fake pharmacists were running hospitals and medical stores in Bihar, affecting the health of citizens.
The top court restored a PIL alleging fake pharmacists running medical stores and hospitals in Bihar, disapproving the Patna High Court's decision to dispose of the matter "ventilating the very serious grievances touching the health and life of the citizen".
A bench of Justices M R Shah and M M Sundresh noted that serious allegations were made against the Bihar State Pharmacy Council and the State of Bihar for not taking any action with respect to fake pharmacist and/or running the Government’s hospitals and/or other hospitals without registered pharmacist and the in-action on the part of the Bihar State Pharmacy Council/State Government has resulted into the affected health of the citizen.
"The High Court ought to have called upon the Bihar State Pharmacy Council to file the status report on the allegations of fake pharmacist and/or on how many Governments’ hospitals/hospitals in the State are run without registered pharmacist," the bench pointed out.
"Running the hospitals/dispensaries in absence of any registered pharmacist and/or running such hospitals by fake pharmacist and even running the medical stores by fake pharmacist and without even any pharmacist will ultimately affect the health of the citizen. The state government and the Bihar State Pharmacy Council cannot be permitted to play with the health and life of the citizen," the bench added.
The bench also pointed out under the provisions of the Pharmacy Act, 1948 as well as the Pharmacy Practice Regulations, 2015, it is the duty cast upon the Pharmacy Council and the State Government to see that the hospitals/medical stores, etc are not run by the fake pharmacist and are run by the registered pharmacist only.
"The manner in which the High Court has disposed of the public interest litigation – writ petition ventilating the very serious grievances touching the health and life of the citizen is disapproved. The High Court has failed to exercise the powers vested in it under Article 226 of the Constitution," the bench said.
The court passed its judgement on a petition filed by Mukesh Kumar against the HC's division bench order of December 9, 2019.
"The High Court has disposed of the writ petition in a most casual manner by taking note of the fact that the Bihar State Pharmacy Council has submitted that the fact-finding committee was constituted and they forwarded its report to the State Government. The High Court has disposed of the said public interest litigation – writ petition by observing that the appellant, after verifying each case individually may invite the attention to such illegality either to the Bihar State Pharmacy Council or the State of Bihar," the bench said.
The top court remanded the matter back to the HC by asking it to decide the issues afresh within four weeks and after calling the detailed report/counter from the State of Bihar and Bihar State Pharmacy Council on: -
(i) how many Governments’ hospitals/hospitals/medical stores/private hospitals are being run either by fake pharmacist or without registered pharmacist;
(ii) whether any action is taken by the State Government on the fact-finding committee report submitted by the Bihar State Pharmacy Council which was reported to be forwarded to the State Government;
(iii) whether there are any fake pharmacists as alleged in the writ petition;
(iv) any action is taken by the State Government or by the Bihar State Pharmacy Council against such fake pharmacist;
(v) whether the Pharmacy Practice Regulations, 2015 are being followed in the entire State of Bihar or not.
While considering the writ petition the High Court should bear in mind the public interest and the health of the citizens, the bench said.