The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued a show-cause notice to the central government asking why contempt action should not be initiated against it for not complying with its orders on oxygen supply to the Capital, reported Live Law.
On May 1, the Delhi High Court had directed the Centre to provide 490 metric tonnes of oxygen, the quota allocated for the city, “by whatever means”. In the same hearing, the court warned the Union government of contempt proceedings if it failed to provide the supply by that night.
The Delhi High Court bench, comprising Justice Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, noted that the Centre had also not complied with the Supreme Court’s order on providing 700 metric tonnes of oxygen supplies to the national Capital.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma contended that the Supreme Court had not instructed the Centre to supply the stated amount oxygen to the city. “A plain reading of the Supreme Court order shows that the court has directed the Centre to supply by making good the deficit...” the counsel said, reported Bar and Bench.
However, the court rejected the Centre’s argument that Delhi’s demand of 700 metric tonnes could not be accepted. “We reject the submission that GNCTD [Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi] is not entitled to receive 700 MT [metric tonnes] per day in light of existing infrastructure,” the court, according to Bar and Bench. “It pains us that the aspect of supply of oxygen should be viewed in the way is done by the central government...”
The High Court asserted that it had the right to review the oxygen supplies made to Delhi, and added that there was “no way that you [Centre] won’t supply 700 [metric tonnes of oxygen] right away”.
When Centre’s counsel advocate Aishwarya Bhati informed the court about the demands of the Delhi government, the court asked whether people should suffer since the administration sought 300 metric tonnes of oxygen.
“Central govt is going to quibble about these little things and let people die?” the court said, reported Bar and Bench. “You don’t know [about the situation in Delhi]? You may put your head like an ostrich in the sand...we will not..”
The court said it looks at the grim reality of the Covid-19 situation every day and that the situation had reached a point where the hospitals have had to reduce the number of beds. It added that on one hand, there was a need to increase capacities to fulfill the rising demands and on the other, the healthcare infrastructure was crumbling and “available bed can’t be put to use”.
The High Court bench noted that the allocation for Delhi had been made from April 20, but “not for a single day Delhi has received the allocated supply”.
A devastating second wave of coronavirus in India has led to widespread shortages of medical oxygen and medicines in Delhi and several other states.
On Sunday, a children’s hospital was among at least three institutions that raised an alarm that it was running out of oxygen. On April 30, as many as 12 patients, including a senior doctor, had died at Batra Hospital due to oxygen shortage.
On April 24, at least 20 coronavirus patients in Delhi died after the hospital treating them ran out of oxygen. Authorities at the Jaipur Golden Hospital said that another 200 lives were at risk as they had supplies to last only half-an-hour.
The Delhi High Court had on Monday asked the Centre to provide details of oxygen concentrators that are stuck at the customs department for clearance. On the same evening, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs said that social media has been flooded with the news that 3,000 oxygen concentrators were lying with Customs, and said it was not true.