Sunday June 23, 2024

SHC upholds FIR against businessman under Drugs Act

By Jamal Khurshid
March 24, 2023

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has dismissed a woman’s petition seeking the quashing of criminal proceedings against her businessman husband under the Drugs Act, 1976.

Petitioner Afshan Salman had challenged the criminal proceedings against her husband Salman Abdul Majeed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) for storing and possessing large quantities of different drugs, including vaccines, and biological and other injections at uncontrolled temperatures under unhygienic conditions.

The FIA alleged that Majeed’s employees were found erasing the printed prices and names of institutions on the unit cartons, while three unregistered drugs — Bactrim and Peyona injections, and Centrum tablet — and packing material for imported Gammaraas injection, its leaflet and stamps used for manipulating and disguising the original were also found.

The petitioner’s counsel said the FIR registration was in violation of sections 18(1), (f to j) and 19(b) of the Drugs Act, 1976, which require a necessary and prior permission from the Central Licensing Board (CLB) for lodging an FIR.

The assistant attorney general supported the FIR, saying that the CLB in its meeting on October 1, 2014, had delegated several of its powers independently to different members to facilitate the timely disposal of routine and day-to-day business of the board.

He said the power of permission to lodge an FIR was accordingly delegated to the director, quality assurance and laboratory testing, DRAP, Islamabad, who is one of the members of the CLB.

An SHC division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro said that the petitioner’s whole case hinges upon her assessment and understanding that the FIR against her husband had been registered in violation of the Drugs Act.

The bench said that in view of the documents submitted by the investigating officer, such an extrapolation of the petitioner appears to be ill-founded and unsustainable. The court said that on a source report, an enquiry was ordered, during which a raid was conducted at the premises of Amanullah Traders, from where a large quantity of different unwarranted, spurious and uncontrolled drugs were seized.

The bench said that instead of filing an application with a drug court for her husband’s acquittal, the petitioner has filed this constitution petition directly for quashing the FIR, which in view of the ratio of superior courts’ judgments is unmaintainable.

The SHC said the petitioner failed to establish the case for quashing the FIR because it was registered after the necessary permission envisaged under the law. The court said it did not find any merit in the petition, and therefore, dismissed it.

Coal selling case

The SHC has suspended the sentence awarded to a businessman in the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) reference pertaining to illegal sale of coal reserved for a power plant in the Lakhra coal field.

A former president of the Hyderabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry and director of a private textile firm was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment with a fine of Rs500 million by an accountability court for illegally selling coal of the Lakhra mine reserved for the power plant in the open market in 2006 and causing a loss to the national exchequer to the tune of Rs2.5 billion.

A counsel for the appellant submitted that the trial court had failed to appreciate evidence of the case as the appellant was only a nine per cent shareholder of the textile company and there was nothing to suggest that he had any role beyond that of a non-executive director of the company.

A division bench of the high court headed by Justice Aqeel Ahmed Abbassi after hearing the arguments observed that the appellant had made out case for suspension of sentence as there was no likelihood of disposal of appeal on merit keeping in view of large number of cases pending before the bench hearing the NAB cases.

The bench observed that other co-accused in the case were already granted bail by the court in the same reference. The SHC suspended the sentence of the appellant and ordered his release on bail with a surety of Rs1 million during pendency of the appeal.