SC agrees to hear Centre's plea against Delhi HC contempt notice over oxygen supply

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New Delhi, May 5 (PTI) The Supreme Court Wednesday agreed to hear the Centre's plea against the Delhi High Court order issuing contempt notice and seeking personal appearance of its officials for not complying with the direction to supply oxygen for COVID-19 patients in the national capital.

The Delhi High Court had directed the Centre on Tuesday to show cause as to why contempt should not be initiated against it for failing to comply with its order.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana was approached by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, as the bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud that is hearing a suo motu case on COVID-19 management in the country, was unavailable on Wednesday.

'I have mentioned the matter before the Listing Registrar. There is some urgency. It needs to be heard today. An order has been passed by the Delhi High court yesterday regarding the oxygen issue. The High Court... has asked the Central government officials to be present in person in contempt,' the law officer said.

“What can we do,” the CJI-led bench asked and on being told again about the urgency of the matter, it said it would be heard by the bench headed by Justice Chandrachud.

The top court, in an order passed on April 30, had directed the Centre to rectify the oxygen deficit situation in Delhi by May 3 midnight and taking note of its non-compliance, the high court on Tuesday issued show cause notice to the central government.

“We, therefore, direct the central government to show cause why contempt be not initiated for not only non-compliance of our order of May as also of order of the Supreme Court dated April 30. To answer the said notice, we direct the presence of Piyush Goyal and Sumita Dawra (senior Central government officers) tomorrow,” the high court had said.

“You can put your head in sand like an ostrich, we will not,” the high court had observed, adding the Supreme Court has already directed the Centre will have to supply 700 MT oxygen daily to Delhi right away by whatever means.

It had said the Supreme Court's April 30 detailed order shows that the apex court has directed the central government to provide 700 MT of oxygen per day to Delhi and not just 490 MT. PTI SJK MNL SA