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The Delhi Barfly diaries: When the district court’s government pharmacy becomes a pain, suffering court staff get sharp relief from unexpected quarters

Medical queues
Medical queues

Spring graced the capital early this year. And so have the usual fermented bundle of viral, flu and the common cold.

In the city's congested (and, let's face it, filthy) district courts, staffers are complaining of sniffles, aches-pains.

They also crib about government-run dispensaries that stock little else but Paracetamol in this time of mucus and mouth-breathing.

Agar bemaar ho aur asli koi dawai chahiye, toh is dispensary peh umeed na rakhna (If you’re sick and need some real medicine don’t hold out hope on this dispensary),” one staffer at a South Delhi district court warned Barfly.

“Mostly if court staff needs medicine, they get it from outside and then there’s extra paperwork that has to be approved by the judge-in-charge. Many times we just don’t bother to get our dues because of the red tape involved,” the staffer added.

The dispensaries operating out of the capital’s district courts are run by the Delhi government, and usually work between 9am and 3.30pm. They were set up to provide judicial officers and court staff with proper medical services and include a doctor to give medical council.

But most of these are running on meagre facilities, barely even having stock of Crocin and gauze. 

The doctor provided at Patiala House, staffers suspect, has another practice because “he just keeps telling you to get another opinion”.

“In other pharmacies, if they don’t have a medicine you need they call for it and call you back the next day or whenever, right?” an annoyed almad tells Barfly.

Barfly is not sure if every dispensary is that caring. But it doesn't seem like the best idea to voice this thought to a man who looks like Santa's favourite reindeer would the day after Christmas - battered, tired and blanched.

Taste of own medicine

Some complaints sound like they’re lifted straight from the mouths' of beleaguered litigants who haunt the courts' hallways.

"Go to the High Court, go to another court," the staffer imitates the dispensary staff.

Completely oblivious to the similarity between the appeals system and his description of how the pharmacy runs, he sniffles on: “If something is missing, they’ll just tell you to go elsewhere — just go anywhere but here.”

Private sector steps up

The silver lining in this mess is the Patiala Bar Association, which several years ago established a private clinic, offering holistic medicine such as homeopathy and … wait for it… acupuncture, that is coming to their aid.

Paid for by proceeds collected from members, it offers consultation and acupuncture to one and all.

“A lot of court staff come here, many prefer it  because of the homeopathy,” says one member of the bar.

Barfly relieved some carpal tunnel syndrome there recently and could highly recommend it.

For one thing, it’s free.

Second, it’s located near the library.

So check a book out to read while a well-trained but somewhat oily middle-aged man pretends that turning you into a human pincushion is really, really good for you.

Delhi Barfly writes of the comings, goings and other gossip clogging up Delhi’s court system.

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