HC suggests forum to redress chemists grievances

Bombay High Court (HC) suggested on Tuesday the state government create a forum to redress grievances of chemists and druggists.

It was responding to a PIL by lawyer Datta Mane opposing a three-day strike announced by Maharashtra State Chemists and Druggists Association (MSCDA) to protest alleged harrassment by drug inspectors for selling abortion pills.

The PIL demands action against chemists under Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act, 2011, for issuing the strike threat. It also seeks direction to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to cancel or suspend licences to MSCDA.

The strike was, however, called off after Satej Patil, state minister for FDA, held a three-hour meeting with representatives of the association.

When the PIL came up for hearing on Tuesday, Sandeep Shinde, appearing for the government, told HC a committee had been formed to look into problems of chemists.

FDA commissioner Mahesh Zagade had told The Indian Express on Monday the committee would include members from FDA and chemists/pharmacists. He said it would meet four times in a year.

In response, a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Nitin Jamdar suggested creation of a permanent forum under Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940. "In the absence of such a mechanism, chemists may feel the need to go on strike," HC said and adjourned the matter till November 26.

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