New Delhi: The Delhi high court has expressed its dissatisfaction over the ‘clean chit’ given by the Delhi Police to prominent politicians – including Gautam Gambhir, B.V. Srinivas – who have been accused of hoarding COVID-19 related medicines and other relief material in the national capital.
This comes after the Delhi Police, in its status report concerning the case, said that there was no evidence of hoarding by the accused, as they were giving out relief material, including medicines, oxygen cylinders, plasma, hospital beds, among others, free of cost to those effected by COVID-19.
Following the allegations of hoarding, the Delhi Police had questioned Youth Congress leader B.V. Srinivas, East Delhi MP Guatam Gambhir, AAP MLA Dilip Pandey, BJP spokesperson Harish Khurana, former MP Shahid Siddique and former MLA Mukesh Sharma of Congress and Congress leaders Chaudhary Anil Kumar and Ashok Baghel.
“That the enquiry conducted so far has revealed that all the persons alleged to have been hoarding medicine etc, have been actually helping people in getting medical aid in form of medicine, oxygen, plasma or hospital bed, the person enquired into have not charged any money for the help provided, and thus no one has been defrauded. The distribution/help has been voluntary and without discrimination,” said the status report filed before the high court by Manoj Dixit, ACP, Delhi Police crime branch.
According to Hindustan Times, taking exception to the Delhi Police’s observations, the high court said, “We are not accepting this position. We mean business. The pandemic is now. This is completely unacceptable. Political parties cannot make this pandemic a selling point. How could they purchase it without prescription?”
The high court further said that everybody should act responsibly during the pandemic, and there was no need for the accused to buy medicines and hoard them to earn some goodwill. “Now it seems that you are not interested in getting out the truth,” the division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh said, slamming the Delhi Police.
While insisting that the accused were indeed hoarding medicines and relief material, it asked the police to surrender whatever stocks were being held by political parties to the director of Health Services as “good samaritans”.
“In case they want to do public good that would be the best way it can be done. We find it difficult prima facie to believe…We are appealing in good sense that this should not go and they should go and surrender it with the DGHS,” the court said, while adding that a “proper investiagtion” should be carried out into the matter, and if necessary, a first information report (FIR) had to be filed.
The police investigation into alleged hoarding by political parties had been carried out on the directions of the high court. However, the questioning of Srinivas had triggered a major political storm as he has been at the forefront of helping people with oxygen cylinders.
In his statement to the Delhi Police, Srinivas had said: “The entire relief work is being carried out pro bono, to provide succor and relief to poor, needy, and desperate patients and their families who seek help during the pandemic. It is unfortunate that at a time when the Central Government has left the citizens of the country to fend for themselves, the resources available are being squandered to harass citizens who are doing charity work to alleviate the pain and suffering caused to the people of this country.”
The next hearing of the case is scheduled for May 24, by when the court has directed the Delhi Police to file a status report showing how medicines were procured in “such large numbers by a few persons.”