Law
The two-judge bench stated that the ban imposed by a single judge bench will not come into effect until the verdict is pronounced by them.
File Image/ Cartouche Health

The Madras High Court, on Thursday, reserved its verdict on the plea for stay on ban of online sale of drugs ordered by a single-judge bench of the court. A two-judge bench consisting of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and P Rajamanickam also stated that the ban ordered earlier by the court shall not come into force till they pronounce their verdict.

The order came after a group of e-pharmaceutical firms filed a petition in the court for a stay to the ban imposed by an earlier judgment. According to a report in the Hindu, in the earlier order delivered on December 17, Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana had stated that online sale of drugs be banned until the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Rules of 2018 permitting the sale of drugs and cosmetics through websites is notified by the Centre.

During the hearing, the e-pharma firms submitted that online pharmacies do not deliver drugs without a valid prescription and that there are teams of qualified pharmacists in the firms, who scrutinise these prescriptions before delivering the medicines. They also submitted that the erstwhile act which governs sale of drugs –the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 – is empowered to act on irregularities by the online pharmacies as well.

Meanwhile, the counsels for the Tamil Nadu Chemists and Druggists Association who had filed the original petition seeking a ban on online pharmacies stuck to their stand that online sale cannot be permitted until the rules are notified by the government of India. TNCDA had first approached the court requesting a ban citing that though purchasing medicines online is convenient to the consumer, it poses severe health risks since the medicines could come from unlicensed online stores. They had also mentioned in their petition that medicines must be administered in a timely manner to those in need and only by registered medical practitioners.