By LE Desk

Aurangabad, April 27: The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court has said that it was averse to directing the supply of anti-viral drug Remdesivir and medical oxygen to specific districts, and asked that the state and Centre ensure timely supply following the laid down distribution plan.

The division bench of Justices Ravindra Ghuge and Bhalchandra Debadwar was hearing a suo motu public interest litigation on the Covid-19 situation in Northern Maharashtra and Marathwada region.

“We are not intending to grab share of Remdesivir injections, medical oxygen from any other district in Maharashtra. In our order, we ask the state and centre to follow their distribution policy and ensure timely supply,” the bench stated, the Hindustan Times reported.

Last week, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay HC had directed the state government to provide 10,000 vials of Remdesivir within eight hours of passing the order, and also pulled up the Centre for reducing the supply of medical oxygen from 110 metric tonnes (MT) to 60 MT from a Bhilai-based oxygen manufacturer, causing a shortfall of 100 MT of medical oxygen to Nagpur and other Vidarbha districts.

The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay HC issued further directions on movement of people during the holy month of Ramzan and also made it mandatory for everyone who ventured out beyond the hours permitted during the lockdown (7am to 11am), to carry their Aadhar card, failing which an offence would be registered against the errant persons.

“Barring relaxation of four hours, any person using vehicle during restriction period shall carry Aadhar card with him, failing which concerned road traffic police would register offence against such persons. We do not find any difficulty that even doctors and medical staff should carry their Aadhar card with them,” the bench said, as reported by the Hindustan Times.

The court made an exception from 5pm to 8 pm for Ramzan and directed the police authorities to not take action suggested by the court against such persons. The court however added that the exception would be applicable only till Ramazan not beyond it.

The directions which are an addition to the existing SOPs are applicable to citizens, officials and public representatives of 13 districts from Marathwada and North Maharashtra.

The HC also came down heavily on politicians who were providing parallel medical services like the state and also pulled up public representatives who shielded lockdown rule violators. The Court also directed a clamp down on black-marketing and profiteering resorted to by some individuals while facilitating the funeral rites of Covid-19 victims.

The division bench observed that while within the court premises everyone wears masks and exercises precaution, beyond its walls there is anarchy as people did not wear masks and three to four people are seen riding on a motorcycle.

“We as citizens, if we show some loyalty to our place and decide not to go out, it would help. We see college students in Aurangabad are loitering on road despite colleges are closed. Before blaming government, society should also do its duty,” said the bench. “Prima facie makes us form view that residents under our jurisdiction need to practice restraint and discipline,” noted the bench.

The PIL was instituted by the bench following numerous reports of the problems being faced by people during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. “It is reported that person in charge of funeral ghats are seeking bribes for performing the last rites. In some places kerosene or petrol is used for setting the funeral pyre. Wood that is being used for performing the final rites is being sold at exorbitant prices which amount to black marketing. All divisional commissioners are to erect electric crematoriums. There shall be a constant check of the concerned authorities to ensure that the relatives of the dead person and monies are not extracted from them for performing funeral.”

On the allegation of ‘illegal’ procurement of Remdesivir by an Ahmednagar MP which was being distributed parallel to the state government facilities and a prayer seeking confiscation of such injections, HC said it would deal with the aspect on April 29. “Meantime, respondent authorities are at liberty to take effective steps, as they would have taken in the event of such eventuality and do what a call of duty demands them to do,” said the bench.

With regards to media reports of adulteration of the Remdesivir drug and unauthorized seeling of the same the bench said, “Person involved in adulteration of Remdesivir injections shall be booked under the relevant provisions of IPC and criminal offences shall be registered against them.” The court added that “if any employee of state or state instrumentalities was involved in such acts criminal offences be registered against such persons. Establishment may initiate disciplinary inquiry against them.”

The court also took cognizance of politicians, people’s representative and authorities exerting pressure or influence on any police officer or law enforcing agency from extricating any violator from being booked and said that such person, shall also be booked for offences punishable for causing interference in the discharge of duties by public servants. It shall also apply to public servant who is not on duty, the bench noted.

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