“Since material in the chargesheet falls short of mentioning any active participation of the applicant in the entire episode of administering fake vaccines in the camps, which was organised as a bona fide gesture, the applicant cannot be further incarcerated when the investigation is over and the chargesheet has been filed,” Justice Bharati Dangre said in the October 12 order on the petition of the accused, Rajesh Pandey.
Kandivli, Borivli, Versova, Amboli and Khar police stations lodged identical cases that fake vaccines had been administered to people without their names being registered on Co-Win despite the government making it mandatory that people would have to register on the app to be inoculated. Also, fake certificates were issued after the camps.
The judge referred to the complaint filed with Versova police. It stated that Pandey had called one Sanjay Rautrai and told him that Kokilaben Ambani Hospital had started a vaccination drive for the corporate sector and housing societies, and he could help with it. As told, Rautrai transferred Rs 2.12 lakh to SE&P Investments for 151 Covishield doses for members of his society. The vaccination camp was held on May 29, 2021 and SE&P Investments owner Sanjay Gupta and two others administered the shots. Rautrai was told that certificates would be delayed due to a server problem. However, when ten members received certificates in the name of Nanavati Hospital, Rautrai smelt a rat and approached police.
As argued by Pandey’s advocate Ashok Saraogi, Justice Dangre said from the chargesheet, Pandey’s role has clearly surfaced as he assisted the complainant/housing society to organise the camp but it was Gupta who had received the money. The vaccine was procured from Shivam Hospital and its doctors Shiraj Pataria and Neeta Pataria are accused. “The chargesheet does not reveal that the applicant has played any other role than this. In any case, the applicant does not possess expertise to know whether the vaccine was fake or genuine and the chargesheet does not accuse him of receiving a single farthing out of the transaction,” she said. The HC accepted Saraogi’s submission “that like other good Samaritans who lent a helping hand with good intention to see that maximum people are vaccinated”, Pandey suggested that camps can be organised at CHS. She directed Pandey’s release on Rs 25,000 cash bail in each case.