Udayavni Special

Remdesivir row: HC refuses to issue order to register FIR against BJP MP


PTI, May 5, 2021, 5:28 PM IST

Source: Wikipedia

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday refused to issue orders for registration of an FIR against BJP MP Sujay Vikhe Patil over allegations that he had illegally procured a large consignment of Remdesivir drug for his constituency Ahmednagar to improve his political image.

Remdesivir is currently in high demand for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The Aurangabad bench of the high court, comprising Justices Ravindra V Ghuge and Bhalchandra U Debadwar, instead directed the petitioners to approach the police station concerned and register a formal complaint in the case.

The bench directed the police station concerned to pursue the complaint in accordance with law and register an FIR if its preliminary probe revealed that an offence was made out.

The court was hearing a plea filed by one Arun Kadu, an agriculturist from Rahuri in Ahmednagar, along with three others, who Vikhe Patil claimed were his political rivals. The plea relied on a video circulated on social media which purportedly showed Vikhe Patil boasting that he had procured the anti-viral injections with the help of his contacts in Delhi. The petition, filed through advocate Pradnya Talekar, claimed Vikhe Patil had bought 10,000 vials of Remdesivir for the purpose last month.

The prosecution, however, had claimed before the court that the Ahmednagar civil surgeon deposited the requisite amount for purchasing 1,700 vials and hence, Vikhe Patil had provided the injections.

According to the prosecution, the petitioners had approached Ahmednagar district collector, superintendent of police and an inspector of Ruhari police station on April 25 through a common complaint.

They were, however, yet to register a specific complaint against Vikhe Patil with the Ruhari police station or with any other police station concerned, it was stated.

”It is not disputed that the petitioners have not rendered an independent complaint to the police station concerned against Dr Vikhe Patil for registration of an offence or an FIR,” the court said. They agree that a complaint has to be filed in the police station, then the SHO must make a noting in the station diary and then follow the legal procedure on registering an offence, the bench said.

The court permitted the petitioners to collect requisite data and file a formal police complaint.

It also directed that the SHO concerned look into the allegations made against Vikhe Patil, and the allegations that the local administration had been shielding the Lok Sabha member.

The court said it did not wish to get into whether or not the local administration had been protecting Vikhe Patil, but if the police find any truth in such allegations, then the MP would have to face legal procedure.

”No one is above the law. If on investigation a case for an FIR against Vikhe Patil is made out, he will not be permitted to evade the law,” the court observed.

It further said orders directing registration of an FIR were not required, since the court was convinced that legal remedies available to the complainant petitioners had not been exhausted.

”We took cognisance of this issue because we were under the impression that the MP was distributing Remdesivir as if they were chocolates to gain popularity,” the bench said.

”We direct the SHO concerned to consider the complaint under the CrPC. And we leave it to the SHO to investigate in accordance with the law,” it said. The high court said it thought it ”pragmatic to not rush to any conclusion or become judgmental” on the basis of the allegations made in the plea. ”Counting chickens before the eggs have hatched may not be as serious for society at large, but this would be dangerous for courts and the justice dispensation system,” the bench said, adding that it did not intend to do so. The HC further said an order directing that the investigation be handed over to the state CID or any other higher investigation agency, as prayed by the petitioners, could be passed only after the court is convinced that even after the complaint was registered, the police were ”soft peddling” or evading their duties. ”The investigating agency will also have to investigate if 10,000 vials or any other amount over and above the 1,700 vials were procured by Dr Vikhe Patil,” it said. ”In view of the above, we are disposing of the petition. We have permitted the petitioners to present in the complaint the documents or affidavits filed before us, or to prepare a fresh complaint,” it said.

Vikhe Patil had filed an intervention application through senior counsel Sirish Gupte, seeking that he be heard as a party to the petition since it sought registration of an FIR against him.

The court, however, said Vikhe Patil could not be made party since he was merely a suspect and not an accused.

The HC permitted advocate Gupte to withdraw the intervention application.

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