Chemimart wins battle for licence for Republic Street outlet
A court today ordered the Superintendent of Public Health to issue a licence for Chemimart Ltd to operate a pharmacy at 21 Republic Street, Valletta.
In a strongly-worded judgement, Mr Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco lambasted the Superintendent for not conforming with the law and with the court’s previous orders.
The court noted that it had been argued that the granting or otherwise of a licence was not a right but a concession by whoever was empowered to grant or refuse such a grant.
It said it did not like reading such words.
"The citizen has his rights and should not need to thank anyone for any concession. Once anyone had a right to a permit, that permit should be issued, and if he does not have a right, it should should not, but in all cases the issue is a matter of rights not favours," Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco said.
The court noted that it had given the said Superintendent of Public Health one year in order to conform with the law but to no avail.
The court said it could not accept such transgressions of the people's rights. Such action on the part of the Superintendent of Public Health was arbitrary and in open contempt of the laws and orders of the Court.
The Court said that it was there to protect the people's rights without fear or favour. It was for this reason that a Judge’s Constitutional position was safeguarded and this, not as a favour to the Judge but a protection for the people ’s rights.
Chemimart is currently already operating from 21 Republic Street, but it is doing so only on the strength of a temprary permit, given when its pharmacy in Freedom Square was demolished to make way for the City Gate project.
Reginald fava on behalf of Chemimart had been applying for the issue of a licence to operate from 21 Republic Street, Valletta since 1990 and had taken action against the Health Authorities in 2007.
The Court said it had been amply proved that Chemimart Limited had the necessary requisites to be granted a licence for the operation of a pharmacy from 21 Republic Street, Valletta and the denial of a licence was abusive and illegal.
The superintendent was ordered to issue the licence within two months.
Last week, The Times reported how the owner of a nearby Valletta pharmacy had filed a judicial letter against the health authorities accusing them of failing to take action against Chemimart for operating for more than a year without a valid licence.
Collis Williams Limited claimed that Chemimart Limited, which moved to Republic Street in 2010 when City Gate was being demolished, was only given a temporary licence to operate there.
The temporary licence expired at the end of that year, it said.
Eighteen months have passed since the move and the pharmacy remained in Republic Street in breach of the law, it added.
The letter was filed against the Medicines Authority, the Licensing Authority’s director general, the minister responsible for fair competition and the Health Minister.