The Supreme Court on Thursday slammed the Centre for slipping into "deep slumber" even as illegal clinical trial of drugs on humans by multinational companies was creating "havoc" in the country.
Blaming the government for failing to stop such "rackets", leading to deaths across the country, a bench of Justice RM Lodha and Justice AR Dave gave interim directions - ordering that all drug trials should be done under the supervision of the Union health secretary.
Welcoming the order, senior advocate and petitioner's counsel Colin Gonsalves said: "Due to the SC's intervention, completely horrifying practices of drug companies and their agents in the government has come under the scanner. I am very confident that this mess will be cleaned up soon."
The SC is hearing a PIL filed by NGO Swasthya Adhikar Manch, alleging largescale clinical drug trials wherein Indians are being used as guinea pigs by various pharmaceutical firms across the country.
"You have slipped into a deep slumber. It pains us that children of the country are being used as guinea pigs by such companies. You do not have even the respect of the parliamentary committee, which has said that the companies are running a racket. And you are showing just draft rules," the bench shot back at additional solicitor general Siddhath Luthra, when he said that the Centre was considering framing rules to guide clinical trials.
The ASG's assurance to get back to court after getting suggestions from various committees set up to look into the issue drew a sharp reaction from the bench.
"You can get back to the court, but what about those who are losing their lives in such clinical trials? People who lost their lives can't get them back," said the bench, adding that committees were formed to divert people's attention from the issue.
"Brief us on the performance of even one committee during the last 21 months," the bench said, seeking an answer from Luthra as to why the government was not following court orders by filing an appropriate affidavit.
"We gave you many opportunities…Your officials are not working in the manner they should work," the bench observed.