CHENNAI: Justice RMT Teekaa Raman of the Madras High Court has referred a matter relating to the powers of Drug Inspector (Allopathy) to prosecute firms committing offences in Siddha and Unani field and requested the CJ to decide on bringing in a mechanism to regulate misleading online advertisements luring the public with the promise of magical cure.
The judge was hearing petitions by a drug manufacturer, challenging the prosecution launched by the jurisdictional drugs inspector. The matter relates to a 2015 advertisement published in Health Choice, a monthly magazine, regarding a drug UTRAVIT syrup 200ml. The advertisement claimed that the drug cured menstrual disorders and diseases/disorders of the uterus.
Noticing the advertisement, the then jurisdictional drugs inspector sent a show-cause memo to the editor of the magazine as it was an objectionable advertisement as per the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1955 (Special Act).Later another memo was sent to the drug manufacturing company Dharma Pharmacy Private Limited located at Sriperumbudhur. The drug inspector of Mylapore range filed a private complaint before the metropolitan magistrate court in Saidapet.
The drug manufacturer filed two petitions before the high court, saying the drugs inspector (general) had no power to prosecute in view of the amendment made in the subsequent years and also relied upon the April 11, 2022 judgment by Justice M Govindaraj in another case.
Hearing the present petitions, Justice Teekaa Raman held that the alleged occurrence is prior to the amendment made to section 33 (c) of Drug and Cosmetics Act, and therefore, it is doubtful whether the petitioner can claim the advantage of the amendment.
The judge added that the prosecution launched by the drugs inspector cannot be termed as want of authority in the absence of any amendment to the Special Act. Since another judge had ruled that Drug Inspector (Allopathy) has no power to initiate prosecution in respect of offences regarding Siddha and Unani, Justice Teekaa Raman referred the matter for consideration by a division bench.