Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government Monday informed the Madras High Court that it did not have the power to block websites selling medicines in the absence of any act or regulation prohibiting such sales. Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana was hearing a batch of petitions in favour of and against online sale of medicines.
Additional Advocate General S R Rajagopalan, in a counter affidavit, said the state “does not have powers to pull out websites providing online sale of medicines in the absence of any act or regulation prohibiting such sale.”
“The Drugs and Cosmetics Act and rules which govern the trade is a central Act and the state has no role in amending the Act,” the counter said.
“This apart, the Centre has published the draft rule to regulate the sale of drugs through e-pharmacy on August 28, seeking suggestions and objections from all the stakeholders,” it added.
This was under the central government’s consideration, the additional advocate general said.
“Therefore, unless there are any rules governing such sale, online sale of medicines cannot be regulated. What cannot be regulated, cannot be permitted. The Act recognises and permits only certain manner of sale particularly retail. Thus, the relief sought for is not maintainable at present,” the state said.
Online traders requested the court to issue a clarification on the interim order that aggregators who are just providing a platform for licensed pharmacies are not prohibited from doing so.
However, declining to issue any clarification, the judge referred to the interim order and said, “the order is very clear that only unlicensed traders are prohibited.”
“Moreover, aggregators are just doing a courier service which cannot be construed as a sale,” she added.
The judge observed that convenience of buying medicines online and the risks have to be weighed against each other.
To this, the petitioner submitted that online sale of medicines was banned in several countries.
The judge retorted that the same may not be applicable in India where people go and get medicines across the counter at local pharmacies without prescriptions.
The court then directed the Centre to file its response and adjourned the plea to December 5 for further hearing.