The Madras High Court on Thursday wondered what the Narendra Modi-led central government has been doing for the last 14 months as citizens scramble to source oxygen, medicine and hospital beds for patients during the devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Live Law reported.
A division bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said there cannot be ad-hocism in dealing with the health crisis.
“Why are we acting only in April now though we had time for one year?” the chief justice asked Additional Solicitor General R Shankaranarayanan. “Despite having a lockdown for most of the last one year, see the situation of absolute despair we are in.”
The High Court was hearing a suo motu public interest litigation petition related to availability of hospital beds, oxygen, drugs and vaccination against the infection.
Shankaranarayanan claimed that the surge in coronavirus cases was “unexpected”. He mentioned the measures that are being taken by the Centre to contain the situation.
Banerjee, however, sought to know which experts the Modi government was consulting. “All that we see here is that [in] ‘June it will be better’,” he said. “We have been relying on chance...We have to go in a planned and informed manner with expert advice.”
He clarified that he did not mean to disrespect anyone with his question. “I have never met a respectable doctor who advised to drop the guard,” the chief justice added.
Banerjee questioned the solicitor general about the vaccine pricing and said he saw reports about the government’s CoWin portal crashing soon after registration for inoculation opened up for all adults in India. He said the bench will address these aspects in the case on Friday.
Meanwhile, Advocate General Vijay Narayan informed the judges that the state government had planned to impose a complete lockdown on May 2, when results for the Assembly elections will be counted, according to The Hindu.
The chief justice urged political parties to avoid mass gatherings, victory celebrations and processions. He said these can worsen the coronavirus situation.
On April 26, Banerjee and Ramamoorthy had said that the Election Commission should be booked on charges of murder for allowing poll rallies to continue despite the country struggling to cope with the sheer number of Covid cases and deaths. “Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of the pandemic,” the judges ohad bserved.
The second wave has led to at least lakhs of people testing positive in India for the infection in the past week, overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums. In the past 24 hours, India recorded 3,79,257 new coronavirus cases, the largest single-day total in the world, taking the country’s total since the pandemic broke out in January 2020 to 1,83,76,524. A further 3,645, the highest so far, took the toll to 2,04,832.