The High Court yesterday observed that the people who produce, store, and sell adulterated foods and medicines should get death sentences or at least life in prison.
Those who are accused of these offences should be implicated under the Special Powers Act, 1974 in order to ensure their maximum punishment, the court said.
A death sentence is the highest punishment that can be awarded under this act.
The people accused of selling adulterated medicines at pharmacies are given seven days of imprisonment by the mobile courts, the court said, adding that the punishment is very minimal.
The HC bench of Justice FRM Nazmul Ahasan and Justice KM Kamrul came up with the observation while hearing a writ petition filed by Mahfuzur Rahman Milon, executive director of Justice Watch Foundation, a human rights organisation.
During the proceedings, Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Abdullah Mahmud Bashar submitted a report prepared by the Directorate General of Drug Administration before the HC.
Citing the report, Bashar said mobile courts across the country had destroyed expired medicines worth Tk 34.7 crore and realised Tk 1.75 crore as fine from those who were involved in selling and storing adulterated and expired medicines in the last two months.
The courts also filed 572 cases in this connection during this period.
DAG Bashar placed the report before the HC bench as per its earlier order.
Meanwhile yesterday, Shah Monjurul Hoque, the lawyer for the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (Bapi), told the HC that his client was also in favour of the drive against the adulterated medicines.
The bench asked Bapi to ensure that the names and expiry dates of medicines are written clearly in Bangla on the strips.
The bench fixed December 12 for further hearing on the issue.
Barrister Milon submitted the writ petition on June 17, citing from reports published in The Daily Star and the Prothom Alo on June 11.
According to the reports, the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection found expired medicines in 93 percent of the pharmacies in the capital where it conducted drives over six months.
The HC on June 18 directed the government to confiscate all expired medicines from pharmacies across the country and destroy those within a month.