The Centre on Thursday moved the Supreme Court against an order passed by the Karnataka High Court that asked authorities to increase the daily liquid medical oxygen allocation for the state, Live Law reported. The Centre has sought a stay on the High Court order.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta mentioned the plea to a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah while it was hearing a case related to the oxygen crisis in Delhi.
The court said it will have to look at the paper book before issuing any order on the matter. “What can we do without seeing the papers?” Justice Chandrachud asked the solicitor general.
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Hospitals across India are facing an acute shortage of medical oxygen as the country experiences an unrelenting second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the last few weeks, several High Courts have taken up petitions, sometimes of their own accord, relating to the government’s inadequate response to the crisis, with a special focus on supply of oxygen to hospitals and availability of antiviral drugs for Covid-19 patients.
In one such hearing on Wednesday, the Karnataka High Court directed the Centre to immediately increase the cap on allocation of liquid medical oxygen to the state to 1,200 metric tonnes, observing that patients were dying in the state due to oxygen shortages.
The court had earlier noted that though the state government had made a demand for 1,700 metric tonnes oxygen per day, the Centre had only increased supplies to 862 metric tonnes.
However, the Centre has objected to this.
During the hearing on Thursday, the solicitor general told the Supreme Court that the government was already supplying 965 metric tonnes of oxygen to the state. He said that the High Court order “needed to be stayed urgently”, reported PTI.
Meanwhile, Congress leader DK Shivakumar hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party government at the Centre for challenging the court’s order. “Will chief minister BS Yediyurappa and BJP MPs remain mute spectators when people are dying of oxygen shortage?” he wrote on Twitter.