The high court on December 9, 2019, had asked Kumar to give the names of fake practitioners so that necessary action could be taken against them.
“It’s a serious issue. It’s the duty of the Bihar government to ensure that not a single hospital or pharmacy is run by the fake pharmacists in the state. We cannot let the state government play with the lives of the people,” the apex court bench said.
“If an untrained person administers wrong medicine or gives a wrong dosage, it will prove dangerous for the people. Who will be held responsible? In states like Bihar, the problem is not limited to fake pharmacists but fake doctors also,” it said.
Advocate Rachita Rai, appearing for Kumar, pointed out that the fact-finding committee constituted by the Pharmacy Council of India in its report has stated that fake degrees were given in large numbers.
The advocate appearing for the Bihar government said the state will be taking action if any complaint is filed and pointed out that at present, the Bihar State Pharmacy Council is defunct and fresh election has to take place.
The bench told the state government’s counsel that the question is not whether it will take action when the complaint is lodged but what action will be taken against fake pharmacists.
“Where there is poverty and illiteracy, people tend to go to these pharmacists and doctors, who do not have necessary degrees. You do not understand the seriousness of the matter. The condition of hospitals in Bihar is the worst and you are saying that the state will take action, when a complaint is lodged,” it said.
The counsel said the state pharmacy council is responsible for registration of pharmacists and it is to take action against fake practitioners.
The bench said the state government is not absolved of its duty towards its citizens and it cannot permit any fake practitioners to distribute or sell medicines in the government and semi-government hospitals and pharmacies.
Rai said under section 45 of the Pharmacy Act, the state government is required to constitute an inquiry on finding irregularities under the provisions of the act.
The Bihar government’s counsel said it does not want to oppose the petition and it is not treating it as an adversarial litigation. The allegations against some of the pharmacists named by the petitioner has not been found to be true, Rai said.
The bench said the state government is trying to point out allegations against two pharmacists while the report is on the scenario of the entire state. “We are shocked that you showed us this report. You should be fair to the court,” it said.
Rai pointed out that the Pharmacy Practice Regulations, 2015, which ensures ethical standards in pharmacy practices among other things had not been implemented in the state.
The bench said it will pass the order and ask the high court to constitute a committee to look into the entire matter and monitor the situation.
On November 7, the top court while issuing a notice to the Bihar State Pharmacy Council had said the appeal against the Patna High Court order is with respect to fake pharmacists in the state.
“From the impugned order, it appears that at the relevant time, the Pharmacy Council of India/Bihar State Pharmacy Council constituted a fact finding committee and its report was already forwarded to the state government. Nothing is on record what further steps are taken by the state government to stop the fake pharmacists functioning in the state”, it had said.
The bench had said it cannot be disputed that by permitting the fake pharmacists to run medical stores and/or function, it will be playing with the life of citizens.
“The state ought to have been vigilant to curb and stop the fake pharmacists”, it had said and asked the state government to file an affidavit giving details of steps taken to stop fake pharmacists from functioning and more particularly, on the basis of the report submitted by the fact finding committee constituted by Pharmacy Council of India.