The state has ensured that errant chemists, who deny patients medicines by shutting shop, will be booked under stringent laws. On Friday, the state issued a notification stating that Maharashtra Essential Services and Maintenance (MESMA) Act 2011 should be invoked in case of erring chemists.
The act states that it is criminal to deny essential services which affect day-to-day working of citizens. The chemists have decided to go on strike from December 16 for three days.
“The state government has taken a serious note of the fact that MESMA can be invoked in case of errant chemists. The essential services need to defined and the periphery has been broadened to include denial of services by chemists to patients under MESMA,” a senior FDA official told dna. “If they keep their shops shut, they will be booked under MESMA Act 2011 from now after legally assessing the culpability of the errant chemist.”
YP Yajurvedi Rao, president of Society for Awareness of Civil Rights, said chemists have no right to deny a citizen of essential service like medicines and put lives of persons under threat. “If found guilty under MESMA, the accused can face imprisonment for uptil two years,” he said.
Even after entering the strike five times over in the last year, the state had not booked the chemists under MESMA until now. “Until now, the chemists have been booked under IPC Section 420 and other minor charges and are most often than not let off by the authorities,” said Umesh Khakke, member, Union of Registered Pharmacists (URP).
A total of 20,000 chemists affiliated to URP, Akhil Bhartiya Pharmacists Welfare Association, Pharmaceutical Teachers Association, Hospital Pharmacists Association are not participating in the strike.
A public interest litigation was filed by Society for Awareness of Civil Rights on Friday in Bombay High Court against Maharashtra State Chemists and Druggists Association who have threatened to strike.
Sources said that Chief Justice Mohit Shah said on Friday that in case the chemists proceed on strike, the hearing of the PIL will occur on December 16 on priority basis.
On Thursday, the MSCDA rejected entering into negotiations with the state and regulatory authority Food and Drugs Administration for calling off the strike. The chemists are protesting against state for cracking down on chemist shops operating without qualified pharmacists.