‘Stricter punishment for drug-dealers’

Federal and provincial health departments have failed to act on SC orders.

Zeeshan Mujahid October 16, 2010

KARACHI: Those people guilty of dealing in spurious drugs need to be taken to task and must have their licences cancelled.

A division bench of Sindh High Court (SHC), led by Justice Amir Hani Muslim, also noted that the Drugs Act and rules framed for the regulation of the import, export, manufacture, storage, distribution and sale of drugs have yet to be enforced in the country.

The bench was hearing a number of criminal revision applications filed by Sindh prosecutor-general against orders of Sindh Drug Court, which sentenced the accused till rising of the court and fined them for Rs20,000 each on charges of selling spurious and substandard drugs. The appeals sought enhancement of sentence to five years of imprisonment, which is the maximum sentence provided in the Drugs Act. They also sought an increase in the amount of fine from Rs20,000 to Rs50,000.

At the outset of proceedings on Friday, Sindh Prosecutor-General Shahadat Awan informed the court of a number of directives issued to the officials of health departments by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on May 12 this year.

The bench said that it notes with “regret that neither the federal government nor the provincial health department have responded to the directives contained in the order of apex court except shifting the burden between departments”.

The provincial health department said that it is short on manpower with only 22 drug inspectors in Sindh and no chief drug inspector since May, the court noted.

“The state is obliged to take steps for providing medical facilities and to ensure that high standard drugs are manufactured and marketed,” said the bench. “It appears there are no checks or any accountability of officials dealing with the prevention of spurious drugs.”

The hearing was adjourned for another two months because there is no Sindh chief secretary present at the moment. The new chief secretary will have to take up issues relating to the Drug Act whenever he is appointed.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2010.


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