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Supreme Court : Doctor can’t be punished under Drugs & Cosmetics Act for storing small quantities of medicines

New Delhi: The Supreme Court bench of Justices Krishna Murari and Sudhanshu Dhulia quashed criminal proceedings against a dermatologist accused of stocking medicines for sale, saying the “extremely small” quantity of medicines which was seized can easily be found in the house or consultation room of a medical practitioner.The apex court observed that considering the small quantity of medicines, most of which were in the category of lotions and ointments, it cannot be said by any stretch of imagination that they could be stocked for sale.

It noted that the appellant is a senior doctor who is engaged as an associate professor and head of the dermatology department in a government medical college in Chennai. “When small quantity of medicine has been found in the premises of a registered medical practitioner, it would not amount to selling their medicines across the counter in an open shop,” the bench said.The bench delivered its verdict on a plea filed by the doctor against order of the Madras High Court which had dismissed her petition seeking quashing of criminal proceedings. The top court observed it is permissible for her under the law to practise medicine when she is not performing her official duties.

It noted that the doctor, in her individual and independent capacity, was carrying on her medical practice at a premises in Chennai and an inspection was made there by the drugs inspector.The bench further noted that as per the inspection report, the drugs inspector found some medicines like lotions and ointment in the inner room of her premises and he had also referred to certain sale bills of medicines.