Vaccine procurement case: Sindh High Court takes notice of ‘derogatory’ remarks

Hepatitis prevention programme manager says stay order has endangered lives of patients


Our Correspondent July 07, 2015
Hepatitis prevention programme manager says stay order has endangered lives of patients. STOCK IMAGE

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday took notice of the remarks made by the provincial hepatitis prevention programme's manager, who said that the court's interim stay order against the procurement of vaccines from foreign companies had endangered the lives of patients.

A bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Shafiq Siddiqui, summoned the advocate-general on July 14 to explain the government officer's remarks about the court. The bench was hearing a case involving a controversy over the procurement of Hepatitis B and C vaccines by the provincial health department from foreign companies at higher prices while ignoring local pharmaceutical firms.

On Tuesday, Abdul Khalique, the hepatitis prevention programme manager, filed an affidavit stating that the plaintiff, a local drug manufacturing company, had obtained an interim stay order from the court on June 9 by misrepresenting the facts of the case.

The officer said that the matter was again taken up in the chamber on June 23 and the factual position was shown to the court with regard to the suffering of the public at large due to the non-availability of the life-saving drugs, which were to be purchased through the controversial tender proceedings. "Since the interim order has been passed without hearing the affected parties, that is the Government of Sindh, the suffering of poor and needy patients is multiplying on a day-to-day basis," he stated.

"Unfortunately, despite the strong request made by the AAG (provincial law officer) for proceeding with the matter on June 30, the honourable single judge adjourned the case to July 14, with the interim order to continue. The life of the needy, poor and underweight patients have been put in danger without any vaccination of Hepatitis B and C, free of cost under the Chief Minister's Hepatitis Prevention and Control Programme," he said in the affidavit.

He added that the court had fixed the stay application hearing on July 14, which would delay the process and deprive the patients.

The bench observed that the language of affidavit appeared to be derogatory in nature and an attempt to ridicule court orders by alleging that it is the court's interim order that has put the life of patients in danger.

When the court inquired from the manager whether he had instructed the government's law officer to draft the affidavit with such derogatory language, Abdul Khalique responded in the negative.

Taking notice of such language used in the affidavit submitted by the provincial law officer, the bench issued notice to the Sindh attorney-general, Abdul Fateh Malik, to appear on July 14 to explain the matter.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2015.