Trustees liable for punishment

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AHMEDABAD: Gujarat high court has held that all the trustees of a private or public trust are liable for punishment under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, if the medical stores run by such NGOs are operated without licence.

The petitioners were trustees of a public charitable trust Daweso Welfare Trust from Dahod. The trust is engaged in promotion of education, social and sports activities as well as extending medical services to the poor and downtrodden. It runs a medical store also, which was without a licence.

 A complaint was filed against the trust for the same, and a magisterial court initiated proceedings under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act against all trustees. They approached the HC to drop the proceedings. But rejecting their plea, Justice J B Pardiwala said, “I hold that a trust, either private or public/charitable or otherwise, is a juristic person, who is liable for punishment under the provision of Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940. A trust having either a single trustee or two or more trustees is a company in terms of Section 34 of the Act. For the offence under the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 committed by the trust, every trustee, who was in-charge of the day-to-day affairs of the trust, shall also be liable for punishment besides the trust.

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