Mumbai: In what could spell serious trouble for Bharatiya Janata Party’s Member of Parliament Dr Sujay Vikhe-Patil from Ahmednagar, the Aurangabad bench of Justices Ravindra Ghuge and Bhalchandra Debadwar of the Bombay High Court, on Thursday, ordered the Maharashtra government to produce the records pertaining to the landings of private aircrafts or chartered flights at Shirdi Airport, between April 10 to 25. The high court has also sought the details of the CCTV footage of the cargo consignments.
This order comes in view of the contention that Dr Vikhe-Patil had airlifted around 10,000 vials of Remdesivir from Delhi and distributed in his constituency. The bench in a clear communication to the principal secretary of state home department said that "it wouldn't tolerate any excuse that it lost footages or details of the aircrafts aren't available."
The bench was hearing a criminal writ petition filed by four agriculturists from Ahmednagar through advocate Pradnya Talekar highlighting the fact that Dr Vikhe-Patil had illegally procured and distributed 10,000 vials of Remdesivir injections in his constituency.
On Thursday the bench also rejected an intervention plea filed by five patients who benefitted from the Remdesivir vials which Dr Vikhe-Patil had distributed and stated that the contentions of the intervenors reminded them of “Robinhood” who stole from the rich to save the poor.
Senior counsel VD Hon, appearing for Dr Vikhe-Patil, told the bench that petitioners in the case were habitual litigants against Dr Vikhe-Patil and his family, and argued that these vials we're purchased legally through a hospital and the money for the same was paid by his client.
The bench took note of an additional affidavit filed by the petitioners where a vernacular daily newspaper’s report indicated of Dr Vikhe-Patil admitting to have travelled through a chartered aircraft and carried the injections.
“He doesn’t spell out the number of vials he had procured. 300 injections were given to district government hospital, some injections were Shirdi Sai baba trust hospital. He had prepared a video recording by himself and he had procured the injections to save the lives of people,” noted the bench.
“He (Dr Vikhe-Patil) further admits of acquiring the injection using personal connections. Several boxes were unloaded at Shirdi airport and a video recording of the same was made as well. In the same news item, the concerned MP has further stated that he has preserved all the records of purchased the injections, and he has denied that he has purchased 10000 injections contrary to the videos uploaded by him,” further noted the bench.
The bench noted that Dr Vikhe-Patil had visited the office of the district collect and =a press conference was held in the premises of the district collector, where the district collector had addressed the news correspondents.
“In the said address that the concerned MP had sought permission to start a COVID hospital in a facility which was a shutdown hospital. The district collector advised the MP that injections and oxygen cannot be supplied through district govt hospital, and said injections can be purchased directly from the manufacturer,” noted the bench.
The bench also took note of a 48-page draft report from the district collector which was submitted through the chief public prosecutor on Thursday. “Considering the contents of the affidavit reproduced we find the district collector permitted a civil surgeon to place direct order from the manufacturer. The few receipts annexed to the indicates civil surgeon paid an amount of Rs 7,56, 000 and Rs 18,14, 400. Page 16 of the report indicates that Dr Vikhe Patil medical hospital has credit an amount of 25,70,400 in the account of the civil surgeon, Ahmednagar,” noted the bench.
This makes one thing clear noted the bench, “that these 1700 injections which the district collector solemnly states, by following the legal procedures, have been supplied by a firm from Pune. These boxes have not come from air journey from Delhi to Shirdi.”
Though we are not forming a final opinion, the bench noted that “prima facie” the district collector is attempting to protect the Member of the Parliament.
“Considering the district collector Dr Rajendra V Bhosle’s role, unless proven otherwise we do not think we would have the confidence in considering his role in any investigation,” the bench further noted.
The chief public prosecutor’s plea to let the district collector be given a opportunity to explain his position was granted by the bench. The bench will hear the petition again on May 3.