HC quashes petition for selling Schedule H drug Sildenafil without license

The state High Court held Snapdeal not liable for punishment under D&C Act and quashed the petition filed by Drug Inspector in Mysuru.

Justice Court
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Last Updated on May 31, 2021 by The Health Master

The Karnataka High Court has quashed the criminal petition against Snapdeal, the New Delhi-based e-commerce company, for selling Schedule H drug Suhagra-100 (sildenafil citrate) tablets manufactured by Cipla at Baddi without having a valid license under Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

The state High Court held Snapdeal not liable for punishment under D&C Act and quashed the petition filed by Drug Inspector in Mysuru.

Amaresh Tumbagi, Karnataka additional drugs controller, stated that there are two cases pending against Snapdeal and connected dealers. One is in Belagavi and other in Mysuru. The case pending in the JMFC, Mysuru against is quashed under Criminal petition No 4676 of 2020 & 4712 of 2020 by the High Court. We are in the process of filing an appeal against the said order in the apex court.

Moreover, the e-pharmacy draft notification issued by the Union government in 2018 has the final orders pending. Under the circumstances, Karnataka drugs control department has strictly refrained from granting any e-pharmacy licenses, Tumbagi told.

Medicine Tablet
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The criminal petitions No 4712 and 4676 of 2020 were filed by Snapdeal formerly known as Jasper Infotech against the respondent Drugs Inspector (Intelligence) Mysore Regional office of Karnataka drugs control department U/s 482 of CrPC.

The petitioner had requested to quash the complaint lodged against them in CC No. 156/2020 for alleged violations of the Drugs & Cosmetics Act Section 18(c) punishable under Section 27(b) (ii).

According to the petitioner, its operations commenced as an online market place during February 2010 to sell the widest range of 60 million plus products across 800 categories from regional, national and international brands and retailers.

Snapdeal is an ‘intermediary’ as per Section 2 (1) (w) of the Information Technology Act 2000. In order to offer products for sale, it is mandatory for the seller to create an account with Snapdeal and contractually agree to the terms of use of its platform. Further, it has also published a document titled ‘prohibited seller activities and consequences policy.”

According to the respondent, Drugs Inspector (Intelligence) Mysore Regional office, Karnataka drugs control department, Snapdeal had exhibited Suhagra-100 tablets for sale and provided a platform to the seller and purchaser.

The respondent alleged violations of Section 18(c) of the D&C Act punishable under Section 27(b) (ii) of Drugs & Cosmetics Act. While Section 18(c) prohibits manufacture and sale without valid license and Section 27 (b) (ii) refers to imposing a penalty for the same.

Following this the High Court noted that the petitioner had put in robust systems to inform all sellers on its online marketplace platform of their responsibilities and obligations under applicable law. Therefore Snapdeal had discharged its role as an intermediary.

The High Court contended that Snapdeal had exercised due diligence in accordance with Section 79(2)(c) of the Information Technology Act 2000 read with IT Rules, 2011 in ensuring that the sellers who register on its website conduct themselves in accordance with the applicable laws.

The Court held that being intermediary U/s 2(w) of IT Act, 2000 is not liable for any action for making use of its facilities. Further it also noted along with other reasons that neither Snapdeal nor its Directors can be held responsible for the offence under U/s 18(c) of the D&C Act, punishable U/s 27(b)(ii) and they cannot be prosecuted. Thereby petitions were allowed and proceedings in the lower court were quashed.

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