“The courts are the custodians of the masses’ rights and they cannot absolve themselves of their constitutional responsibility,” Bandial remarked while hearing a petition seeking a transparent policy to purchase medicines for public hospitals and initiating action against the people responsible for the deaths from spurious heart drugs.
“No one will be allowed to endanger the lives of people. The courts will adopt every measure to protect the citizens,” he said. Additional Advocate General Hanfi Khattan told the court that the Punjab government was awaiting the judicial inquiry report on the issue. A law officer of the federal government, Aazer Latif, told the court the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had completed its probe.
The two law officers appealed to the court to defer the hearing. However, petitioner’s lawyer Azhar Siddique said the petition was filed to protect the people’s rights, not for adjournments. Pointing to ambiguities emerged after the devolution of health ministry to the provinces under the 18th Amendment, Siddique said: “No drug regulatory authority is working in Pakistan and medicines are being sold without any check and the PIC case has proved that there is no system of checking into medicines.
“The drug testing laboratories are ill-equipped while more than 50,000 licences have been issued for the production of medicines. Many medicines, including lifesaving drugs, are being produced in different areas of the city. Drug inspectors are either running their medicine companies or backing the nasty business of producing of spurious drugs,” the counsel said.
“The medicine mafia has been endangering the lives of masses. Will the court allow this?” he said. “No”, the chief justice replied, adding that the court would protect the people and it would not throw them at the mercy of “anyone”.
Expressing his resentment over the issuance of a large number of licences for production of medicines, he said: “Why more than 50,000 licences have been issued? What is the system to keep a check on these licences?” He directed the government lawyers to submit details to the court by September 25. The court also directed the petitioner lawyer to give proposals to solve this important case.
Separately, the LHC chief justice constituted a full bench to hear petitions challenging allotment of land of Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB). The chief justice will head the three-judge bench while Justice Muhammad Khalid Mahmood Khan and Justice Ijazul Ahsan would be its members. The bench will take up the case on Friday (today).