The High Court asked the government if two officials of Drug Administration, whose incompetence led to a faltering investigation of the deaths of 28 children from poisonous medicine in 2009, have been reprimanded.
The High Court bench consisting of Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice Md Ataur Rahman Khan allotted 72 hours to the government on Thursday for the response.
The order was issued following a supplementary petition of Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB). The High Court asked why Deputy Director Altaf Hossain and Assistant Director Shafiqul Islam of Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) should not be removed from their posts.
The order also asked the health secretary and director general of DGDA to file a progress report on the matter within two weeks. The court may pass further orders on April 6.
Twenty-eight children across Bangladesh died from renal failure during the period of June-August in 2009 after consuming toxic paracetamol syrup manufactured by Rid Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
A case was filed on August 10, 2009 by then drug superintendent Shafiqul Islam, one of the two officials in question, with Dhaka Drug Court against five officials of Rid Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
On November 28 last year, a Dhaka court had acquitted all of the five accused.
However, in January this year, the government filed an appeal against the acquittal of the accused personnel from Rid Pharmaceuticals. Consequently, the High Court accepted the appeal for hearing and asked the accused to surrender. They are however yet to surrender at the lower court.
HRPB’s counsel Advocate Manzil Murshid told reporters that a lower court in its verdict had criticised the incompetency of the two government officers. “They should have been removed from their jobs,” he said.
In the verdict, the judge slammed the drug authorities for “their inefficiency in producing the case before the court.” The verdict stated that the Drug Administration did not adhere to the 1980 Drug Law following up on the case, as they did not properly collect evidence to send it to a lab for testing.
The report of a government probe committee in 2009 had said that Rid Pharmaceuticals used a cheaper and poisonous chemical named Diethylene glycol, usually used in tannery and rubber industries, in manufacturing their medicine to cut costs of production.