On Wednesday, the Bombay High Court frowned upon ‘Messiah’ Sonu Sood and Congress MLA Zeeshan Siddique for ‘illegally’ supplying anti-Covid drugs to netizens and asked the Maharashtra government to scrutinise their role in procurement and supply of such drugs.
In a scathing order, the Bombay High Court also observed that these celebrities projected themselves as some kind of “messiahs” without verifying if the drugs were spurious or if the supply was legal.
A Bombay HC bench of Justices SP Deshmukh and GS Kulkarni issued directions to the Maharashtra government to probe the actor and the Congress MLA after the government informed the court that it had registered a criminal case at the Mazgaon metropolitan court against a charitable trust, BDR Foundation, and its trustees for supplying anti-Covid drug Remdesivir to Congress MLA Siddique despite having no requisite licence.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said that the Congress MLA Zeeshan Siddique was merely supplying the drug to citizens who had approached him, so no action had been taken against him yet.
With regards to actor Sonu Sood helping patients with Remdesivir vials, the Maharashtra government said that during the investigation they were directed “from A to B, and then from B to C and we finally ended up at shops inside Lifeline Medicare Hospital. It had come from Cipla in Bhiwandi. This is what we know so far. This is outside government allocation. An inquiry is pending.”
The AG also said that Sonu Sood received the anti-Covid drugs from several pharmacies located inside the private Lifeline Care Hospital in Goregaon. He added that they have launched an inquiry to know how these pharmacies received drugs such as Remdesivir from Pharma company Cipla.
Remdesivir, among other anti-Covid-19 drugs, is directly procured by the central government and then allocated to various states depending on the need. Hence, private persons were barred from procuring and distributing the drug, according to government rules.
Bombay HC asks from where did Sonu Sood and Siddique obtained anti-Covid drugs
Slamming both Siddique and Sood for violating the rules, Justice Kulkarni said, “In both the situations, when the personalities were directly dealing with the public at large, was there any reasonable basis for the common man to know the drugs were available with either BDR Foundation or Lifeline? These people projected themselves as some kind of messiahs without verifying if the drugs were spurious or if the supply was legal.”
The judge further said that the roles of these two personalities need to be investigated as many people might follow the suit.
The court said that in both these cases, they expected the state government to scrutinize their actions because, without their actions, no person could know that these are the suppliers. “We want you to examine the role of these two very seriously, and whatever you want to say in the affidavit, please say so,” said the court.
The court further added, “What is the public perception? In reality, the government is taking all the efforts to procure the drug. But they tell the public at large we are doing this, but you are a parallel agency, totally unauthorized. This is very easy. Tomorrow anyone will go to social media and say the government is not coming to your help, we are.”
Meanwhile, the judges adjourned the matter till further hearing on Friday to know the status of the probe against Sood and Siddique.
Sonu Sood and his dubious charities during Covid-19 pandemic
Sonu Sood turned to philanthropy last year after the nation was hit by the coronavirus pandemic. From what started as sending migrants back home during the lockdown, Sood allegedly has come a long way to arranging oxygen and Covid-19 medicines within minutes anywhere in the country and ordering oxygen plants from France for India.
However, more than his work, his narcissism and dubious charities caught the attention of the nation. Amidst his self-promotion, the netizens have slammed and exposed the actor for alleged false claims of arranging beds, plasma and oxygen for Covid-19 patients during the pandemic.
A controversy had broken out recently after the actor was accused of taking credit for arranging plasma for a Covid-19 patient when he had not done so. In another case, Sonu Sood had claimed to have arranged a hospital bed for a patient who had already succumbed to Coronavirus infection
Sonu Sood was again called out after a video of him being approached at the airport for a Covid emergency went viral. Netizens were left puzzled as to why anyone in need of critical medical supply wandered at an airport for help. Again, last month, Sonu Sood duped the citizens after he claimed that his team had helped a critical patient in Bengaluru by arranging Oxygen. However, it was later revealed that the patient had received help from the BJP young leader and Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya and not from Sonu Sood.
Similarly, Sonu Sood had recently called out by Ganjam DM for taking credit for arranging a bed for the Covid-19 patient when the administration had received no such communication from the actor’s charity foundation.