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Procurement of medicines, disinfectants: HC directs BMC to respond to plea filed by BJP MLA Shelar

The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to respond to allegations made in a PIL filed by BJP MLA Ashish Shelar. He claimed that the tender floated by the civic body on August 21, 2020 for procuring medicines and disinfectants for civic-run hospitals was not as per standards of World Health Organisation (WHO) and central health authorities. The PIL also alleged that the quality standards of the required items in the tender was compromised to benefit vested interests of bidders.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni on Friday was hearing the PIL seeking a stay on the tender process. Advocate Deepa Chavan representing Shelar submitted that the fight to control Covid-19 and treating patients had increased Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI) among hospital staff as well as patients admitted in civic hospitals in Mumbai.

The plea claimed that one of the reasons for increase in HAI was the faulty public procurement process, which is aimed at ‘favouring’ certain manufacturers by compromising with the eligibility or pre-qualifying criteria. Due to a skewed process, the health and safety of the common people, particularly the economically disadvantaged sections of the society, was compromised, the plea said.

After hearing submissions, the bench said, “It is not advisable for judicial review in tender matters. The government is the master as they are aware of requirements and hence know the conditions to lay down. Who are you (Shelar) to complain? None of the firms applying for the tender have any problems.” “The concern expressed in this PIL petition requires examination after the pleadings are complete,” it added.

The court directed the BMC to respond to the allegations made by the petitioner within two weeks and asked Shelar to file rejoinder in a week thereafter.

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