THD News Desk, NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court recently announced that police will have no prosecution powers in respect of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. The verdict was announced on the Union of India Vs. Ashok Kumar Sharma case. The Supreme Court verdict implies that the police can not arrest/register or file an FIR against any offender under this Act.
D&C Act, 1940 regulates the import, manufacture, and distribution of drugs and cosmetics in India. The primary object of the Act is to ensure that the drugs sold in India are safe and unadulterated, at par with the state quality standards.
The Bench comprising of Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph quashed an FIR registered by the police under the same Act. Upholding the Allahabad High Court verdict, SC reiterated that neither the CrPC nor Section 32 of the D&C Act will allow any intrusion by the police in the respectively listed offenses.
Facts of the case –
- Commissioner (Food Protection and Drugs) ordered for an inquiry, acting on an online complaint, followed by an order to the Drug Inspector to investigate the Clinic and Pharmaceutical.
- The owner of the medical store was found stocking medicines in the absence of a license and was charged under Section 18 and 27 of the D&C Act, 1940.
- The owner filed a writ petition appealing for the dismissal of the FIR
- The High Court referred to Section 32 of the D&C Act and announced that only a Drug Inspector can make an arrest/press charges against the offender
- The Supreme Court gave a judgment concurrent to the High Court’s impugned order.
The Apex Court held that solely the Drug Inspectors appointed by the Central or State government are entitled to the powers mentioned under Section 22(1). The list includes the power to –
a). Inspect and search any place or vehicle wherein any drug/cosmetics is being manufactured, sold, stocked, or distributed,
b). Take samples of the drug/cosmetic for examination,
c). Record any potential evidence discovered
d). Register an FIR against the offender.
Further, the Act provides for assistance by the police while conducting a search operation.
Narendra Ahooja, Drug Controller, Haryana while welcoming the decision suggested that “to implement the Court order in its truest sense, state FDA’s need to be strengthened with required infrastructure and facilities”.
Undoubtedly though, the Supreme Court verdict has cleared the ambiguity surrounding the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, marking the authority and jurisdiction by Drug Inspectors exclusive.