29 Apr 2021: High Court questions Centre over oxygen allocation to Delhi
The Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the Centre why states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh got more oxygen than they asked for, but the repeated appeals of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led government in the National Capital weren't entertained.
The bench, including Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, also rejected the Centre's claims that the current oxygen supply for Delhi is "sufficient."
Statement: Can't accept that supply is sufficient: Delhi HC
The bench took a dim view of the way Delhi's coronavirus crisis is being handled. It told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented Centre, that even people close to them weren't finding any beds.
"That (supply being sufficient) may not be correct at all. That we can't accept. It is people close to us who are not getting beds and oxygen," the bench remarked.
Fact: Judges said they were getting calls for arranging beds, oxygen
"We have heard about Haryana people dying, we have heard people in Meerut dying because of oxygen not being available and we have heard about Delhi. We are getting so many calls for arranging beds and oxygen," the bench added.
Claims: All states got what they asked for: Delhi government
During the hearing, the Delhi government informed about the supplies given to other states, and said, "All states have been given what they asked for. The only state that has been left out is Delhi."
The government submitted that Delhi needs 790 MT of oxygen.
The bench then asked Mehta, "What's happening in Delhi? Why are we struck in 490 metric tonnes here?"
Observations: HC doesn't want Delhi to get more than what's needed
The bench clarified that it doesn't want to secure more than what's needed for Delhi.
"However, if submissions of Delhi or Amicus were to be accepted, it would appear the central government needs to explain this, for which we are granting time," the bench remarked.
When Mehta suggested that oxygen can be diverted from Madhya Pradesh "at the cost of people's lives if the court desires," the bench fumed.
Series of events: Bench asked why Centre didn't meet Delhi's demands
Responding to Mehta's suggestion, the bench said, "Don't project it as if we are wanting something and taking away. We don't appreciate this."
Saying that it was relying on facts, the bench added, "When the demand was 445, how do you allocate 540 and if the demand is 1500, how do you allocate 1616?"
The bench told Mehta it can't duck these questions.
Context: Facing oxygen shortage, hospitals sending SOS messages on social media
As is evident, the surge in coronavirus cases has crippled Delhi. The National Capital has been reporting 24,000 to 28,000 fresh cases for days now.
Overburdened hospitals are finding it difficult to cater to patients and have been sending SOS messages on social media about oxygen shortage.
Last week, 20 patients had tragically died as a hospital had run out of the life-saving gas.