Bombay High Court Criticises Delay In Hearing Appeals; Orders Swift Action On Chemist Licence Suspensions

Bombay High Court Criticises Delay In Hearing Appeals; Orders Swift Action On Chemist Licence Suspensions

The bench was hearing several petitions filed by chemist shop owners challenging the suspension of their licenses.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Thursday, January 11, 2024, 09:32 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File

The Bombay High Court has observed that appellate authorities cannot keep cases pending, and there is no scope for a theory of “operation is successful but the patient is dead.”

“There cannot be a scope for a theory of ‘operation being successful; however, the patient dead.’ The petitioners would certainly have a legal right to know the status of their challenge insofar as the interim reliefs or the final reliefs they seek in their appeals before they are made to suffer the suspension order,” said a division bench of Justices Girish Kulkarni and Firdosh Pooniwalla on January 10.

Chemists challenge suspension order

The bench was hearing several petitions filed by chemist shop owners challenging the suspension of their licenses under the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act for a period of 10 days, beginning January 7. The chemist shops contended that they had challenged their suspension order issued in October 2023 before the appellate authority in the same month. However, the same were not heard and they approached the high court.

Advocate Atal Bihari Dubey, appearing for one of the petitioners, submitted that his license was suspended from January 8 to January 17. The suspension order was issued on October 3, and the appeal was filed on October 31. Yet, their appeals have not been listed for hearing, and consequently, no interim orders were passed.

HC orders appellate authority to give hearing in eight weeks

Staying the suspension of licenses, the high court has ordered the appellate authority to give them a hearing within eight weeks.

The bench noted that such inaction by the appellate authority affects the right of the petitioner to carry out trade and profession. “Such inaction on the part of the appellate authority is likely to affect the rights guaranteed to such persons under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution read with Articles 14, 21, and 300A of the Constitution,” the order read.

It also remarked that the appellate authority is “expected not to overlook the significant obligation with the powers the appellate authority wields” in the adjudication of the statutory appeals.

“Once the remedy is provided by law, it is required to be an 'effective remedy' in letter and spirit. The appellate authority hearing the statutory appeals would be required to be alive to the consequences,” the bench underlined.

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