The Delhi High Court on Tuesday, 4 May, told the central government that it had failed to meet its assurance on oxygen supply to Delhi government.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli slammed the Centre saying that the Supreme Court had taken note of the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assurance that the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi’s (GNCTD) demand for oxygen will be fulfilled.
Saying that the the projected demand for oxygen was 976 MT, the HC added that as per an order by the apex court, the GNCTD had increased its demand to 700 metric tonnes of life-saving gas per day.
The high court questioned the Centre to show cause as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against it for violating the court’s order pertaining to the supply of medical oxygen to the national capital.
Representing the central government, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Chetan Sharma submitted that the SC has not directed supply of 700 MT.
Castigating the Centre, the HC said “You can put your head in sand like an ostrich, we will not.”
"We reject the submission of Mr Sharma and Ms Bhati that GNCTD is not entitled to receive 700 MT of oxygen per day in light of the existing medical infrastructure. It pains us that this issue should be viewed the way it’s being done by the central government." - Delhi High Court
Saying that everyone sees the “grim reality” everyday, the court added, “The situation has come to this that hospitals have had to reduce the number of beds.”
IIT, IIMs Would Do a Better Job Than Centre: HC
The court, earlier in the hearing, had instructed that experts at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) will do a better job of managing oxygen if the Centre hands over the responsibility of organising Liquid Medical Oxygen to the premier institutes.
Chiding the Centre, it said, “If you don’t undertake this exercise, you will be in contempt. Now, this is your job, there are tankers available but you are not willing to do this job.”
Bringing up the GNCTD’s request on seeking aid from the Indian Army to establish emergency field hospitals, the court directed the Centre: "This has to be done fast. The nature of the request is such.”
In response, ASG Sharma said that the matter is under consideration and logistical issues are being observed.
“It has already been 48 hours since the request was made to you,” Justice Palli hit back at the ASG’s remark.
The HC began hearing the petition on the several issues that had surfaced in the national capital amid the vicious second wave of COVID-19.
In his plea filed through advocate Snigdha Singh, Pratyush Prasanna claimed that "due to an acute shortage of hospital beds and other necessities such as testing kits and oxygen supply, there has been an overwhelming number of deaths in the country, especially in the national capital region."
The matter will now be taken up on 5 May.
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