covid 19

It is not sufficient to grant petitioners the benefit of anticipatory bail simply because they have been summoned in a complaint case. – Observed by Punjab High Court

TITLE: Sunita Dhawan v Sunita Dhawan

Decided On-:11.07.2023


CORAM: Hon’ble Justice Mr. Sandeep Moudgil

INTRODUCTION-   The petitioners ask for the granting of anticipatory bail under Sections 32/16/17-A(f)/17-B(d)/18(a)(i)/ 18(a)(vi) & 18(c) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, read with Sections 27(b)(1), 27(c), 27(d), and 36-AC of the same Act.


According to the case’s facts, on June 18, 2020, the complainant, a drug inspector, formed a team with Mr. Sanjay Aggarwal, Ms. Manpreet Kaur, and DCO (Mohali-I) Punjab who went to the location of M/s Gupta Medical Hall at the request of the Deputy Drugs Controller for the necessary sampling of sanitizer for the testing and analysis from various areas of Punjab, including Mohali, Kharar, Therefore, the complainant had obtained samples of the handwash/sanitizer from M/S Gupta Medical Hall, which was produced by the petitioner-firm, i.e. Additionally, the petitioners were involved in producing, selling, and distributing drugs that Government Analyst found to be of subpar quality, according to the complaint’s allegations against them and the documents that accompanied them. As for the “identification” and “assay of isopropyl alcohol,” it has also been reported that the sample “contains 77.43% v/v methanol, while the label claim is Isopropyl Alcohol IP 70 w/v” and “does not conform to claim as per IP 2018”.Then, after sending a notice to the M/s Shelom Pharma representative, the complainant learned that the product had actually come from the petitioner company, M/s Edwin Lab. After that, on September 11, 2020, the complainant sent a notice to the petitioner company, M/s Dr. Edwin Lab, but neither that company nor any others did anything in response.


The petitioners’ knowledgeable attorney argued that on July 24, 2018, they sent a communication to the State Drugs Controlling-cum-Licensing Authority stating that one Shailendra Mishra, an approved manufacturing chemist, was given full authority to make all decisions regarding the production and manufacturing of medicines and even accepts responsibility for those decisions. Since none of the petitioners were present, they have no direct or indirect involvement in the alleged seizure of drug samplers or other items. the petitioners cannot be prosecuted, it is further argued, because it must be demonstrated that the Act’s offence was committed with his knowledge and approval.

On the other hand, Ms. Gurmeet Kaur Gill, Senior Panel Counsel for the Union of India, argued that the petitioners engaged in misconduct and made unjustified profits through dishonest means even during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the Disaster Management Act was popular. She refuted the petitioners’ claim and argued that, in the event a company committed crimes against society as a whole, the director who had benefited from such a “overt act” should be held accountable.

Both counsels have passionately fought their arguments and made their submissions by relying on judgments of various Hon’ble courts

The courts stated, In the current instance, it is true that samples of sanitizer were taken from M/s Gupta Medical Hall, Phase-1 Mohali, when sanitizer was sampled in the Mohali, Kharar, and Zirakpur areas. According to a report by a government analyst, samples of hand sanitizers made by M/s Dr. Edwin Lab were not of standard quality.It also turns out that the petitioners were partners in the business that produced the hand sanitizers introduced during the COVID-19 Pandemic. These products were not only of poor quality, but they were also discovered to contain poisonous methanol at a concentration of 77.43% v/v.

“Thus, on examination of facts namely the averments made in the complaint and the case laws extracted herein above, this Court, prima facie, is of the considered view that the averments made in the complaint regarding the role and responsibilities of the petitioners are specific and precise, and in these circumstances, the trial court was justified in taking cognizance of the offence alleged against petitioners and rejecting the prayer for anticipatory bail of the petitioners.”


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Written by-  Steffi Desousa

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