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Tuesday,30-November-2021

National News

Dhanani’s PIL over drug hoarding ‘Publicity Interest Litigation’: BJP

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Remdesivir

A Gujarat BJP legislator, accused of illegal stocking and distribution of anti-Covid drug Remdesivir from the party office in Surat by Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani, has termed the Congress leader’s PIL a “Publicity Interest Litigation” and urged the state High Court to dismiss it.

In response to the notice issued by the Gujarat High Court pertaining to Dhanani’s PIL against the state BJP President C.R. Patil, Majura (Surat) legislator Harsh Sanghavi and the state government, Sanghavi and the Drugs Commissioner filed their affidavits in the court on Tuesday.

In his affidavit, Sanghavi alleged that the PIL has been filed to gain publicity, political mileage and not meant for interest of the public and has asked the court not to entertain it. He has also claimed that the PIL was based on unverified and false facts.

Dhanani had, on April 14, filed a PIL against Patil, the Majura MLA, the Gujarat government through Chief Secretary Anil Mukim, the then Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Jayanti Ravi, FDCA Commissioner, Hemant Koshiya, the Surat Collector and the Police Commissioner for illegally acquiring, stocking and distributing Remdesivir injections.

A division bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and Vaibhavi Nanavati had issued notice to all the respondents and had asked them to file a reply within two weeks.

It had also sought Koshiya clarify and present before the court what actions he had taken on the representation made by Dhanani on April 14, when he filed the PIL.

Dhanani, in his PIL, had pointed out that Patil and the local MLA were not registered pharmacists nor did they hold any legal capacity to en masse purchase, store and distribute Remdesivir, but had hoarded the injections and distributed them from the BJP office in Surat, when there was a shortage.

“Even on a condition of providing Covid certificate and doctor’s prescription at BJP office in Surat, the distribution of Remdesivir injections is illegal and violates several provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, the Pharmacy Act, the Drugs Control Act and an application to take action against Patil and others is preferred to the Commissioner of Drugs, Gandhinagar,” said Anand Yagnik, the counsel for Dhanani, in his submission.

Dhanani had sought an expert committee to be constituted of “highly distinguished and neutral persons” to inquire into the incident and place a report before the court in the context of the applicable acts as well as the Disaster Management Act, and the Epidemic Diseases Act.

In response, Sanghavi’s affidavit says that the allegations and violations of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act were “false” as there was no hoarding or possession of the injections but they were just facilitated to those who required it. Sanghavi’s affidavit mostly consists of alleging political intentions behind Dhanani’s PIL.

The FDCA Commissioner’s affidavit also doesn’t mention anything about the violations pointed out in the PIL, but says that there was nothing wrong with the hoarding and distribution of Remdesivir injections from the BJP’s Surat office.

National News

Admiral R. Hari Kumar takes over as Indian Navy chief

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Admiral R. Hari Kumar, a Gunnery specialist and an advocate of integrated theatre commands, took over as Chief of the Naval Staff. He succeeds Admiral Karambir Singh, who retires upon superannuation, after an illustrious career, spanning over forty one years, in the Indian Navy.

Admiral Kumar is an alumnus of the prestigious National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla.

“It is a matter of great honour for me to take charge as the Chief of Naval Staff. Indian Navy’s focus is on our national maritime interests and challenges,” Admiral Kumar said as he received the Guard of Honour at the South Block in the national capital.

He was commissioned into the Indian Navy on January 1, 1983. In his career spanning over 38 years, he has commanded Coast Guard Ship C-01, IN Ships Nishank, Kora, Ranvir and the Aircraft Carrier INS Viraat.

A Gunnery specialist, he has held several key appointments, including Fleet Operations Officer and Fleet Gunnery Officer of Western Fleet, Executive Officer of INS Vipul, Gunnery Officer of INS Ranjit, commissioning GO of INS Kuthar and commissioning crew of INS Ranvir.

His shore appointments include Command Gunnery Officer at HQWNC, Naval Advisor to Government of Seychelles, UN Mission in Somalia (UNOSOM II) at Mogadishu and Training Commander, INS Dronacharya.

As a Flag Officer, he has served as Commandant of the Naval War College at Goa, Flag Officer Sea Training, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, Chief of Staff, Western Naval Command, Controller Personnel Services and Chief of Personnel at Naval Headquarters.

He has also served as the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs Of Staff Committee at the critical junction during the creation of the institution of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and Department of Military Affairs (DMA).

He was the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, WNC at Mumbai, prior to taking over as the Chief of the Naval Staff on November 30, 2021.

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Maharashtra

Omicron concerns: Mumbai, Pune, Nashik postpone schools’ reopening

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Amid concerns of the Covid-19 variant Omicron, the reopening of schools from Class 1 to 7 has been postponed by 10-15 days in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik, officials said here on Tuesday.

The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner I.S. Chahal and Pune Municipal Corporation Mayor Murlidhar have said that schools in the two cities — both among the worst-hit in the Covid-19 two waves in 2020 and 2021 — will now reopen from December 15.

Similarly, the Nashik Municipal Corporation, which was also among the badly-hit cities in the past two years of the pandemic, has also postponed the schools reopening plan to December 10.

However, all schools in the rest of Maharashtra are likely to reopen from December 1, for Class 1 to 5 in the rural areas and 1-7 in the urban areas with full Covid protocols, as announced earlier by School Education Minister Prof. Varsha E. Gaikwad.

Taking precautions, the BMC is currently tracking all passengers who have arrived in the city from the 12 Omicron-hit nations since November 10 to detect if any of them are infected by the new strain.

The state government has also sought information on all passengers landing at the three international airports in the state in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, besides those arriving from other states, by flights originating from the 12 nations.

The BMC has already announced that a 14-day institutional quarantine regime will be compulsory for all such passengers and home isolation will not be permitted under any circumstances.

The state, major cities and district health authorities are gearing up to face the challenge of Omicron by readying hospitals, beds, ICUs, liquid medical oxygen stocks, medicines, doctors, para-medical and non-medical staff, and other health infrastructure to cater to a possible patient rush in the coming weeks, even as Covid-19 vaccination drive has gained momentum.

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National News

No case of Omicron variant detected in India so far: Mandaviya

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No case of Omicron variant has been detected in the country so far, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

He was responding to a question during the Question Hour.

The Covid situation in the country, he said, is under control but measures are being taking to pervent it from spreading further. A total of 124 crore vaccination doses have been administered to the eligible population till date.

Earlier in the morning, the Union Health Secretary chaired a review meeting with the states and UTs on the emergence of the new Covid variant. The states were advised to ramp up
testing for early identification of positive cases and its management.

Also, the Centre has directed to extend the ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ campaign till December 31 with focus on 100 per cent first dose and completing backlog of second dose vaccinations.

The states were also asked to focus on timely testing for early identification and ensuring adequate health infrastructure.

On Monday, the World Health Organisation said that the overall global risk related to the new Omicron has been assessed as “very high”.

Omicron, labelled as ‘variant of concern’ is a highly divergent variant with a high number of mutations, including 26-32 in the spike, some of which are concerning and may be associated with immune escape potential and higher transmissibility. However, there are still considerable uncertainties, the global health body said.

“Given mutations that may confer immune escape potential and possibly transmissibility advantage, the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron at the global level is high”, it said.

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