Courts Update Bombay HC rejects PIL seeking direction to Centre to...

Bombay HC rejects PIL seeking direction to Centre to increase Remdesivir allocation to Maharashtra

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Nagpur, May 3 (ILNS) The Bombay High Court has declined to direct the Centre to increase the allocation of Remdesivir drug injections to Maharashtra, observing that “there is a possibility of the direction having it’s trans-border impact, and that too, without knowing anything about the larger scenario”.

The Nagpur Division Bench of Justices SB Shukre and AG Gharote was hearing a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL), registered to consider issues concerning COVID-19 management in the city of Nagpur.

In its order on May 1, the Court said, “The primary purpose of holding this emergency hearing today was to ensure compliance with our directions regarding supply of Remdesivir vials by way of interim relief to Nagpur city and districts of Akola and Bhandara, as per the order dated April 30, 2021.”

Advocate TD Mandlekar has Advocate SP Bhandarkar (amicus curiae) submitted that the Central Government needs to give its second thought to the considerations
which are presently weighing with it, while making the state-wise allocation of Remdesivir vials.

According to them, one of the most important considerations that must be taken into account by the Central Government is of percentage of share of each of the states in the national figure of active case load.

“As of now, we do not have any figures of
the actual production of Remdesivir vials by all the 7
manufacturing companies. Besides, if any direction
as is suggested is to be passed by this Court at this
juncture, there is a possibility of the direction havingit’s trans-border impact, and that too, without
knowing anything about the larger scenario.
Therefore, we are of the view that this issue can be
best decided only by the Central Government and at
the apex level of judicial system of India and as such
we do not think it appropriate to issue any such
direction. “

The Court requested the Central Government to reconsider it’s decision making state-wise allocation for the period of 10 days and increase the allocation, so as to make it consistent with the reduction of number of active cases in the state of Maharashtra.

It was noted by the Court, “Everyday, the vials that are being sent to different districts of Maharashtra are almost always in short supply of the number of vials that should have been delivered to each of the districts, as per the district-wise allocation made by Commissioner, vide order dated April 30, 2021.”

SP Bhandarkar, Amicus Curiae, submitted that actually the EOI was a global tender issued for inviting bids to supply 10 lakh Remdesivir vials, 25000 metric tonnes of oxygen and 40000 oxygen concentrators. If this is so, it would clearly lead to two conclusions.

Firstly, there is no need to mix up the Remdesivir vials, which would be supplied eventually under the EOI with
those that must be supplied as per orders of the
Central Government. Secondly, the EOI being about a
global tender, should not come in the way of the State
Government in it’s effort to implement the order of
this Court to centralise the whole system of
procurement from Seven Indian Pharmaceutical
Companies, and then the allocation, distribution and
supply of Remdesivir drug within the State, which
would be based upon the orders issued from time to
time by the Central Government, if any. For this
purpose, there is a need for the State Government to
take urgent steps in the matter, which have not been
done so far.

The Bench directed the Chief Secretary, State of Maharashtra, to take immediate steps in this regard and centralise the whole process and whole system of procurement from seven pharmaceutical companies of Remdesivir vials and their distribution among all districts, in accordance with the orders of the Central Government.

The Court further directed the Health Secretary to issue a fresh districtwise allocation order of Remdesivir vials, based upon the order of the Central Government dated May 1, 2021, which should be effective for a period from May 1 to 9, 2021.

It was clarified by the Court that now no
pharmaceutical company, which is duty-bound to
supply Remdesivir vials in accordance with the orders
of the Central Government dated 24th April, 2021 and
1st May, 2021 to State of Maharashtra, shall supply
Remdesivir vials to private purchasers in the State
unless the daily quota of the supply allocated to each
of the pharmaceutical companies for Maharashtra is
first fulfilled by every pharmaceutical company and if
there remains any balance of Remdesivir vials
thereafter, then only the concerned pharmaceutical
company shall supply those vials to the private
purchasers in the state, in fulfillment of the orders
that they have received from them.

The Food and Drug Administration Maharashtra was further directed to:-

(a) Upload on daily basis all the figures pertaining to production of Remdesivir drug and also other drugs received by it from all the pharmaceutical companies.

(b) Upload on it’s website the order making 10 days or weekly district wise distribution of Remdesivir vials.

(c) Upload on it’s website the number of vials actually received by it and the backlog on a given date.

“The Central Control Room should be set up jointly by the District Collector, Nagpur and the Commissioner, Nagpur Municipal Corporation by exercising their powers under Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 read with Section 65 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

The order that
would be issued jointly by these authorities shall
name the members of the Central Control Room,
which could be officers from different department of
Government and doctors enlisted from IMA and VHA.
These members shall be divided into different teams,
with each team overseeing and deciding on every
aspect of Covid management in Nagpur city and
District, from bed allocation in every hospital, private
or Government, through distribution of all essential
drugs including such as Remdesivir and Tocilizumab
to distribution of oxygen and Covid essentials. The
Central Control Room would be manned by these
teams 24 hours X 7 days” , the order reads.

The High Court posted the matter to May 5, 2021 at 1200 noon. ILNS/KR/RJ

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