Delhi High Court Refuses To Vacate Stay On Online Sale Of Medicines

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The Centre's counsel said the government is in the process of framing the rules in this regard.

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court today refused to vacate the stay on sale of drugs and prescription medicines by online pharmacies.

The court said the stay will continue till the next date of hearing – February 6 – noting the submissions of the Central government counsel that rules are yet to be framed to regulate such entities.

"Keeping in view the averments made by the Union of India in its counter affidavit, based on reports of various committees and the fact that statutory rules are yet to be framed, we are not inclined to vacate the interim order. It will continue till the next date," a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao said.

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The court was hearing a PIL, filed by Zaheer Ahmed, seeking a ban on "illegal" sale of drugs and medicines online.

In his petition, Mr Ahmed, represented through senior advocate Arvind Nigam and advocate Nakul Mohta, has said that the online illegal sale of medicines would lead to a drug epidemic, drug abuse and misutilisation of habit forming and addictive drugs.

The Centre's counsel said the government is in the process of framing the rules in this regard.

In its response, Directorate General of Health Services of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said after deliberation on the concern raised by the stakeholders, it was decided that the central government shall prepare a regulatory framework for the regulation of online sale of drugs.

The government has called for objections and suggestions from all the stakeholders and after due consideration, the draft rules will be finalised for publication in the official gazette, it said.

The Centre also claimed in its affidavit that Mr Ahmed's petition was wholly without merit and not maintainable and deserved to be rejected.

It added, "The issue of clandestine export and sale of medicines via internet by certain web portals in the country in violation of the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, was taken up by the authorities in the 47th and 48th meetings of the Drugs Consultative Committee held on July 31, 2014, and July 24, 2015, respectively."

During the hearing, one of the online pharmacies seeking to be impleaded in the matter informed the court that the division bench of Madras High Court has vacated the stay on online sale of medicines.

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