Remdesivir via chartered flight: Bombay HC asks home dept to keep CCTV footage


Hearing the matter of alleged illegal procurement of 10,000 vials of remdesivir by BJP MP Dr Sujay Vikhe-Patil, which purportedly arrived in Ahmednagar on chartered flights, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on Thursday directed the home department to preserve details of private aircraft or chartered flight landings at Shirdi Airport between April 10 and April 25 along with CCTV footage of the cargo consignments.

“We will not tolerate any excuse about any CCTV footage being lost or loss of any details of the chartered/ private aircraft landings and take off,” the HC noted.

We are dealing with the issue that whether this individual has surreptitiously and unofficially procured the injections or not, the HC said.

A division bench of Justice Ravindra V Ghuge and Justice Bhalchandra U Debadwar was hearing a plea filed by Arun Kadu, an agriculturist from Rahuri, Ahmednagar, along with three others through advocate Pradnya S Talekar, alleging “illegal” and “secret” procurement and distribution of about 10,000 vials of the anti-viral drug from pharmaceutical companies by the Ahmednagar MP.

According to the petitioners, rules state that no individual can order the injection used in Covid-19 treatment on a personal level; only the distict collector is authorised to procure it.

The court also came down heavily on Ahmednagar district collector Dr Rajendra B Bhosale, referring to a report filed by him saying that it was he who had permitted the Civil Surgeon, Ahmednagar, to place an order for 1,700 injections directly with a pharmaceutical dealer in Pune, and said the collector “is attempting to protect the MP.”

Bhosale had submitted that the 1,700 injections did not come from Delhi to Shirdi on a chartered aircraft, adding an amount of nearly Rs.25.7 lakh was paid by Dr Vikhe-Patil Medical Store, Ahmednagar, owned by the Parliamentarian’s foundation, in the account of the civil surgeon. He had also held a press conference recently defending the MP.

“Issue would be, whether this is a legally accepted procedure?” HC said, asking the collector to explain his position during the next hearing on May 3.

The HC said it would have to be ascertain whether videos and photographs released by the MP with regard to the chartered flight were truthful and directed the Superintendent of Police, Ahmednagar to trace out the boxes containing the vials, which were admittedly unloaded by the MP at Shirdi Airport.

Recently, Vikhe-Patil had stirred controversy by putting up recordings and photographs on social media, showing him in a chartered flight and landing at the Shirdi airport and unloading boxes of remdesivir.

The court also expressed surprise over submissions made by a few relatives of Covid-19 patients seeking to intervene in the matter, stating that the MP was a “saviour” for procuring the injections through “his contacts”. The court remarked, “These contentions remind us of an old story of Robinhood when it used to be said that ‘Robinhood goes out of the way to help the poor’”.



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