New Delhi, Nov 21: The Government of Bihar received harsh criticism from the Supreme Court on Monday for permitting individuals without the required credentials to perform the duties of a pharmacist in a number of state-run hospitals.
The Bench, comprising Justices M.R. Shah and M.M. Sundresh, was hearing a petition highlighting the perils of entrusting untrained personnel with the responsibility of ‘medicine distribution-related work’. Justice Shah gave the state government a clear directive to make sure that ‘not a single hospital in the entire state’ provided medications without the assistance of licenced pharmacists.
“If an untrained person administers the wrong medicine or the wrong doses of a medicine, and this results in something serious happening, who will be responsible?” the judge asked.
“We cannot permit the state government to play with the lives of its citizens,” he added.
The lawyer for the Government of Bihar informed the Bench that they will take ‘whatever action was contemplated in law’ based on specific complaints against negligent employees. This suggestion was, however, turned down as being inappropriate.
“Where there is poverty and lack of education, you cannot afford to wait till a complaint is filed. Even more so, in a state like Bihar. You do not understand the seriousness of this matter. This is not just a question of fake pharmacists, but also fake doctors. You will find a number of fake doctors and fake compounders in the state. The poor, uneducated people have to go to them. The condition of hospitals in Bihar is the worst,” Justice Shah noted.
“And you are saying you will wait till complaints are lodged. The inaction of the state government till the receipt of a complaint was not permissible”, the judge added.
The Bihar State Pharmacy Council, which the state administration attempted to blame because it was undergoing an election, was allegedly defunct at the time.
The Bench decided to reserve its order today, but explained, “We propose to pass a detailed order, remand the matter to the High Court, and direct the concerned authority to complete the enquiry and submit the report to the High Court. Instead of us, the High Court will periodically monitor and supervise the entire thing.”