The Supreme Court has directed the Health Minister, the Ministry Secretary and the Legal Draftsman to take immediate steps to present in parliament the draft bill for the implementation of a National Medicinal Drugs Policy. It said this law was necessary to protect the rights of all citizens.
The Bench comprising Justices K. Sripavan, S.I. Imam and Priyasath Dep expressed this view when the two petitions seeking the Supreme Court to direct the Health Minister to present the Draft Bill for the National Medicinal Drugs Policy (NMDP) came up before the Court.
Court noted that the petitioners had filed the appeal in June 2009 and several dates had been given by the state to finalize the Draft and present it in parliament.
Court said it appeared the Bill was still with the Legal Draftsman’s Department and said the State should take effective steps to enact the relevant laws as early as possible to protect the rights of citizens through the implementation of a National Drugs Policy.
Court directed the Registrar to forward a copy of the order to the Health Minister, the Ministry Secretary and the Legal Draftsman’s Department so that expeditious action would be taken to implement this policy without delay. The case will betaken up again on July 27.
One petition was filed by the People’s Movement for the Rights of Patients (PMRP), its President and its Joint Secretaries. The other petition was filed by Lohan Bibile, a grand nephew of Prof. Senaka Bibile who pioneered the efforts to introduce a Medicinal Drugs Policy.
The Petitioners were asking Court to direct the Health Minster to present the draft Bill in parliament forthwith. They are asking the Court for a declaration that the fundamental right to equality and equal protection of the law guaranteed to them and the people continues to be or is in imminent danger of being infringed by the respondents.
They state that in October 2005, the Health Minister was placed on record issuing a public undertaking to present the National Medicinal Drugs Policy. However they complain that not withstanding several agitations, reminders and collective lobbying by interested parties, there has been a strange and unexplained silence from the Health Minister to follow through on his assurances and complete the process by presenting the Bill to Parliament, for reasons best known to him and unknown to the petitioners.
Chrishmal Warnasuriya with Revan Weerasinghe and Dushantha Kularatne instructed by Wijesinghe Associates appeared for the Petitioners. Senior State Counsel Viveka Siriwardane de Silva appeared for the respondents.