During a hearing on Centre’s plea regarding the contempt notice issued to it by the state high courts, the top court said the COVID-19 pandemic in Delhi is at a very critical stage.
The top court asked the Centre to file a report about the oxygen supply to the national capital in the last three days. “Tell us how much oxygen you have allocated to Delhi in the last three days,” the top court asked the Centre.
The Centre had earlier moved the Supreme Court on the Delhi High Court’s contempt warning to it on the availability of oxygen in light of the Covid-19 crisis.
During the hearing, the Solicitor-General, appearing on behalf of the Centre, told the Supreme Court that putting officers in jail would not be the solution to the crisis.
“This is not adversarial litigation; Centre, Delhi government is elected and doing their best to serve COVID-19 patients, the S-G told the SC. To which, the top court agreed that putting officers in jail will not bring oxygen to Delhi, let’s ensure that lives are saved.
The Delhi High Court had directed the Centre to show cause as to why contempt is not initiated against it for failing to comply with the order on the supply of oxygen to the national capital for treating Covid-19 patients.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud and MR Shah heard the matter as Chief Justice India NV Ramana asked the Supreme Court registry to place the papers on the matter before this bench.
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.”
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.”
The Delhi High Court had asked state and centre officials to remain present in court for contempt proceedings since oxygen supply, as per Supreme Court order, was not met with.
On Tuesday a Delhi High Court bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli rejected the Centre’s submission that Delhi was not entitled to 700 metric tonnes of medical oxygen in light of existing medical infrastructure.