Sunday, February 5, 2023

Allahabad HC denies anticipatory bail to Aligarh nurse alleged to have wasted 29 Covid vaccine doses

The Court held that the applicant has approached the Court straightway without exhausting its course i.e. without getting the anticipatory bail rejected from the Court below.

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The Allahabad High Court denied anticipatory bail to a nurse who was allegedly involved in the criminal wastage of 29 doses of Covid-19 vaccine by throwing them into the garbage without administering them to beneficiaries.

A single-judge bench of Justice Rahul Chaturvedi passed this order on Friday while hearing a Criminal Misc Anticipatory Bail Application filed by Niha Khan, who invoked the powers of the Court under Section 438 CrPC, apprehending her arrest in a case under Sections 203, 176, 465, 427 and 120B IPC, Section 3/4 Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984 and Section 3/4 Pandemic Act, Police Station- Civil Lines, District- Aligarh.

The Court held that the applicant has approached the Court straightway without getting the anticipatory bail plea rejected by a court below. However, reasons disclosed/ canvassed are quite convincing to hear and decide the anticipatory bail applicant on merits.

Prior notice of the bail application was served in the office of Government Advocate and as per Chapter XVIII, Rule 18 of the Allahabad High Court Rules and as per direction dated November 20, 2020, the Court further held.

The counsel for the applicant submitted that the applicant has got no criminal antecedent to her credit nor has undergone imprisonment after conviction by any Court of Law in relation with any cognizable offense, previously.

In addition to this, an assurance was also given by counsel for the applicant on her behalf that she would render all required cooperation and assistance in the process of law and the investigating agency to reach its logical conclusion and shall not flee away from the course of justice, said the Court.

The counsel for the applicant argued that the applicant has been made a target just to besmirch her reputation and belittle her public estimate. A number of other arguments were advanced to demonstrate the falsity of the accusation made against her by the informant in the instant FIR. It was also canvassed that the applicant has got every reason to believe that she may be arrested by the police pursuant to the FIR.

The Court observed that the FIR was lodged by Durgesh Kumar translating some departmental inquiry conducted by two senior government doctors at Aligarh and suggesting to lodge an FIR against two named accused persons including the applicant Niha Khan.

The applicant was serving as ANM at Primary Health Centre, Jamalpur, Aligarh. After the conclusion of departmental inquiry, the instant FIR was registered under the aforesaid penal sections of IPC as well as other penal enactments; that named accused person was found prima facie involved in the alleged criminal wastage of Covid vaccine.

The inquiry report has also reported that 29 doses of vaccine were thrown in the garbage without administering the same to its respective beneficiaries but their names were uploaded over the portal. Thus, 29 persons remained unvaccinated. It was argued by the counsel for the applicant that she was a petty nurse at PHC who’s being made a scapegoat on account of political inclination and affiliation.

Additional Advocate General in his counter-argument vehemently opposed the contention raised by Counsel for the applicant and has submitted that offence committed by the applicant is not an offence but a sin against the society. Even after lodging the FIR, she is playing all sorts of tricks and gimmicks to save herself from the clutches of the law and not at all cooperating with the investigation and exploring all possible avenues to sneak away from the judicial process. The applicant is somehow and other directly involved in the offense and keeping in view the gravity and nature of the offense her custodial interrogation is essentially required.

“Without expressing any opinion about the ultimate merit of the case, the Court can express its nascent concern, that the offence for which the applicant is accused is indeed serious in nature and tends to adversely affect society at large. Very recently the entire nation has witnessed the wrath of an invisible virus, where thousands of citizens left us forever. Despite the fact, we are having limited resources, our scientists have done a yeoman’s job in manufacturing the medicine as an antidote to this deadly virus to save our fellow citizens. The Government of India is also on a mission mode and making all efforts to vaccinate its citizens pan India free of cost. Our health warriors tirelessly serve the patient day in and day out, without bothering their own comfort, rather risking their own lives and their family members,” the Court said.

The Court stated that we cannot afford to have any seepage or perforation in this mission. The Court records its deep concern about those 29 persons who remained unvaccinated and roaming around freely in the society as a potential carrier of its deadly virus under the misconception that they have been vaccinated. The Court also records its strongest exception to the fact that there is criminal wastage of precious medicine.

The Court ordered that,

Taking into account the gravity of the offense, the alleged prima facie involvement of the applicant, the Court is afraid to exercise its power in favour of the applicant under Section 438 CrPC and accordingly the application seeking

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anticipatory bail stands rejected.

However, the Court cautioned the Investigating Officer not to sway away with any of the observations made above while making an depth and transparent probe into the case.

Needless to mention here, the Investigating Officer of the case would conclude its investigation with utmost professional way as early as possible but not beyond 90 days.

The applicant is obliged to cooperate in the fair investigation so that the truth may come out and the guilty person may tried suitably to reach its logical conclusion.

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