After six years of legal battle, CBI takes over probe on Tripura’s spurious drug case

Debraj Deb
In 2017, spurious drugs were also spotted in Tripura, after the state government notified two prescription drug items 'not of standard quality', tested by certified analysts.

Six years after a doctor from Tripura moved the Supreme Court against Vardhaman Pharma Private Limited, a Himachal Pradesh-based drug manufacturer for purportedly supplying 11 spurious life-saving drugs to the state government, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday took over the investigation of the case.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, Tripura Advocate General Arun Kanti Bhowmik said the state government informed the High Court of Tripura last year that it was principally agreed on handing over the investigation on Vardhaman Pharma's spurious drug case to CBI.

The high court, where a case relating to the issue is pending, asked CBI to take charge of the investigation. The central investigation agency finally took over the probe and lodged a fresh FIR, Bhowmik said this evening.

Back in 2013, Ashok Sinha, who is now a spokesperson for ruling BJP, started the tirade against Vardhaman Pharma Private Limited by moving to court. Eleven life-saving spurious drugs were found which were supplied to the state Health Department from the company. Sinha had filed a petition with the Supreme Court in 2013. In 2015, the apex court said the case could be heard by the high court and a petition was lodged next year.

After the apex investigation agency took over the probe, plaintiff Sinha today said it is a sigh of relief but the battle is far from over.

"Supplying spurious drugs is the worst kind of crime one can do. Even worse was the then Left Front government which stayed silent even after lab tests confirmed spurious drug reports. Instead, former Chief Minister Manik Sarkar promoted an official who was guilty of the crime. The battle is far from over. When all these people are behind bars, I shall say we have won," Sinha told reporters.

Advocate Arijit Bhowmik, who is Sinha's counsel at the high court, said he has received no document about CBI taking over the case. However, he said relevant documents might be placed before the Court on the next date of hearing.

The erstwhile Left Front government clarified in 2017 that Vardhaman Pharma Company producing fake documents to get tender of drug supplies. The government also clarified that since the company violated the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, drug supplies were not received from them. A small batch which was distributed was later withdrawn.

In 2017, spurious drugs were also spotted in Tripura, after the state government notified two prescription drug items 'not of standard quality', tested by certified analysts. The batches of drugs were manufactured by Wing Biotech, a Karnataka-based pharmaceutical drug manufacturing company.