Amid the ongoing oxygen crisis, the Supreme Court will on Thursday morning hear the Centre’s plan as to how it will increase supply of medical oxygen to 700 MT daily for COVID-19 patients in Delhi. The apex court had suggested the government should look to Mumbai as BMC had done a good job of handling the Covid situation.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court stayed the contempt proceedings initiated by the Delhi High Court against Central officials for non-compliance of its direction. The court was conducting an urgent hearing on the Centre’s plea against the High Court show-cause notice on contempt and an order seeking personal appearance of its two senior officials for failing to comply with the directions to ensure supply of 700 metric tonnes(MT) of liquid medical oxygen(LMO) to Delhi.
Further, the apex court gave the Centre a 10:30 am deadline for Thursday over the oxygen crisis. The court said, “In a good-faith measure to submit a tabulated plan before this court, we allow Centre to submit a plan by 10.30 am tomorrow.”
A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud and comprising MR Shah heard the matter. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta represented the Union government, while senior advocate Rahul Mehra appeared on behalf of GNCTD. Mehta told the Supreme Court, “The Centre and Delhi government are both making best efforts. This is not adversarial. Putting officers in jail will not ensure oxygen supply. The Centre is preparing a module for supplying oxygen to various states.”
Justice Chandrachud told the Centre, “Calculating oxygen demands based on per bed is not scientific.” It asked the Centre to “try and extrapolate BMC model for Delhi”.
The Supreme Court said that till an audit was not done, actual procurement needed to be focused on in Delhi. “Centre needs to inch closer to 700 MT for Delhi, the present supply of about 550 MT does not work.”
The court asked the Centre to inform by Wednesday midnight on how much oxygen they shall supply to the national capital.
While Mehta told the court that the Centre had a formula to calculate oxygen demands and elaborated on it, the court reminded the government that it needs to understand that the situation was dynamic in different parts of the country and the demand may vary. Not prudent to have a static formula. The court told the Centre, “Please tell us that in the next few days how will you meet the demand of Delhi.”
The court asked the Centre, “Why are the orders of supply of oxygen to Delhi not been complied with?” To which, Mehta said, “Demand for oxygen has steeply gone up. We are diverting oxygen from all possible sources. Equitable distribution of oxygen is being ensured.”
Justice Chandrachud reiterated, “Effort should be to comply, we agree that putting officers in jail would not help the situation.”
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