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Delhi HC Asks India Govt to Act Against Illegal Online Sale of Drugs & Resolve Matter within Six Weeks

Written by : Trishti Pariwal

September 4, 2023

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Furthermore, the bench set the matter for another hearing on November 16th after the Center's attorney informed the Court that conversations are still ongoing over a draft notification on the sale of drugs online.  

The Delhi High Court has directed the Indian government to act against the illegal online sale of drugs. The HC has allowed six weeks for the government to resolve the matter and provide an update on its progress. The court's decision is a response to petitions asking for a ban on online sale of medications without a proper licence. 

Justices Satish Chandra Sharma and Sanjeev Narula's panel approved the Centre six weeks to take necessary action and tell the court of its final position on the '˜illegal' sale of drugs online. 

Furthermore, the bench set the matter for another hearing on November 16th after the Center's attorney informed the Court that conversations are still ongoing over a draft notification on the sale of drugs online. 

The bench passed an order on August 28 and stated that 'œUnion of India is granted further six weeks' time to take appropriate steps and thereafter, inform the court of UoI's final stand in this matter. In the interim, the Union of India and State Government are directed to take necessary action, in accordance with law, in respect of persons acting in violation of the interim order dated 12 December (2018), that is, engaging in online sale of drugs without a valid licence.' 

The high court had already requested'¯the government agency to'¯provide an update on petitions calling for a prohibition on the '˜illegal' sale of drugs online. 

To recap, the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules were being further amended, and the court was examining petitions asking for a ban on such sales as well as challenges to the draft regulations released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 

The petitioner body represented by advocate Amit Gupta, South Chemists and Distributors Association said while challenging August 2018 notification that, 'œThe draft rules are being pushed through in "serious violation" of the law, ignoring the health hazards caused due to sale of medicines online without proper regulations.' 

Petitioner Zaheer Ahmed, represented by advocate Nakul Mohta has demanded the e-pharmacies be held in contempt for continuing online selling of drugs in violation of a high court decision. 

The petition also demands that the central'¯government be held in contempt for allegedly failing to take action against the defaulting online pharmacies. 

Some e-pharmacies had previously informed the court that they did not need a licence to sell drugs and prescription medications online. This has been done because they deliver the medications just like the food delivery service which does not need a business licence. 

However, it was claimed by the petitioners that illegal sales of the medicines will cause a drug epidemic, drug misuse and inappropriate usage of habit-forming and addictive medications. 

'œSince there was no mechanism to control the sale of medicines online, it puts the health of consumers at high risk and affects their right to a safe and healthy life under Article 21 of the Constitution,' said the PIL.  

Moreover, it stated that online pharmacies cannot be regulated under the current framework because they do not possess a drug license. Unlicensed and unregulated sales of medications raise the possibility of selling fake, poorly labeled, and inferior medications. 


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