The Supreme Court has said that running hospitals, dispensaries and medical stores in the absence of any registered pharmacist or by fake unregistered chemists will ultimately affect the health of citizens.
A bench of justices MR Shah and MM Sundresh set aside a Patna High Court order passed on a plea by pharmacist Mukesh Kumar seeking direction to authorities concerned to not allow any person other than a registered pharmacist to compound, prepare, mix or dispense any medicine on the prescription of any medical practitioner.
The bench said that without going into details of the grievances raised, the high court had 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.
Kumar had moved the top court through advocate Rachitta Rai, challenging the high court order saying it has erred in its findings.
“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 said.
It said 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 government hospitals/hospitals in the state are running without registered pharmacist.
The bench said, “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 and the state government has resulted into the affected health of the citizen…”
It added that 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 of India. The impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court disposing of the writ petition is unsustainable,” it said.
The top court, while allowing the appeal said that the impugned judgment and order passed by the high court disposing of the writ petition is hereby quashed and set aside.
It remanded back the matter to the high court to consider the writ petition afresh after calling the detailed report from the Bihar government and Bihar State Pharmacy Council on how many governments hospitals/hospitals/medical stores/private hospitals are being run either by fake pharmacist or without registered pharmacist.
The bench said that the high court should also seek report on whether any action has been 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 and whether there are any fake pharmacists as alleged in the writ petition.
It said that the high court should also call for report on any action is taken by the state government or by the Bihar State Pharmacy Council against such fake pharmacist and 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 citizen,” it said, adding that the high court shall take up the writ petition for hearing on remand within a period of four weeks.
On November 21, the top court while hearing the matter had rapped the Bihar government for not taking action against fake pharmacists and doctors in the state, saying the court cannot permit it to play with the lives of people.
The high court on December 9, 2019, had asked Kumar to give the names of fake practitioners so that necessary action could be taken against them.
Rai had pointed out that the fact-finding committee constituted by the Pharmacy Council of India in its report has stated that fake degrees were given in large numbers.