The Directorate General of Drug Administration has suspended its two officials for neglect of duty in dealing with a case on the manufacture of Paracetamol syrup that killed at least 28 children in 2009.
The two officials are Shafiqul Islam, assistant director of the directorate, and Altaf Hossain, deputy director. They were drug superintendents in 2009.
Health Secretary Sirajul Haque Khan appeared before the High Court on Thursday and informed it about their suspension.
He had earlier appeared before the court on Wednesday and said: “The two officials have been warned.”
Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice Md Ataur Rahman Khan rejected his statements and ordered him to reappear on Thursday with “proper explanations over inaction against the two”.
At least 28 children died in 2009 after consuming Paracetamol syrup made by Brahmanbaria-based Rid Pharmaceuticals.
Shafiqul Islam filed the case with the court on Aug 10, 2009 and was in charge of the investigation.
Islam did not follow the proper procedure in filing the seizure list and results from the chemical tests, the court said in its observation.
“The fact that he did not take the necessary steps for filing the case shows his inability and inefficiency.” A day later, it issued arrest warrants against five.
Four more cases were then filed against Rid Pharmaceuticals in Brahmanbaria and other areas in the country.
Rid’s Managing Director Mizanur Rahman surrendered in October and was ordered to prison by a Dhaka court.
His wife Sheuli secured bail from the High Court. The other three accused were absconding.
The case details suggest the children died due to poisonous elements in the Paracetamol manufactured by the drug company.
But in the chargesheet given to the court, investigator Islam said chemical tests could not trace the presence of poisonous Diethylene glycol in the drug. Drugs were of low quality, he said.
On a petition of Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh, the High Court issued a rule on Mar 16 asking why the drug administration should not order them to fire the two officials.
The health ministry submitted a report to the court on Jul 11 highlighting the negligence of the two officials.
The Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh then filed another petition seeking punishment for the two officials.
On Aug 3, the High Court asked Secretary Khan to file an update on actions taken against the officials.
In response, Khan submitted a report that said the “two officials were warned.”
Supreme Court lawyer Manzill Murshid, on behalf of Human Rights and Peace, then filed another petition on which the court summoned the health secretary. (Source: bdnews24.com)