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Delhi High Court issues show-cause notice to Centre over failure to supply oxygen to Delhi as per the directions issued by the Supreme Court

show-cause notice supply oxygen to Delhi

The Delhi High Court taking note of the persisting failure of the Centre to supply oxygen to Delhi as has been directed by the Supreme Court in an earlier order, directed the presence of Central Government officers Sumita Dawra and Piyush Goyal, who are handling oxygen allocation to the states, tomorrow, to explain the cause of non-compliance of the Central Government to supply the directed quantity.

The division bench of the Delhi High Court comprising Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli on May 4th, 2021 issued a show-cause notice to the Centre as to its non-compliance of the order passed on April 30th, to rectify the oxygen deficit of Delhi on or before the midnight of May 3. The order was passed based on an assurance of the Solicitor General that the oxygen needs of Delhi will be met.

In a similar order passed by the Delhi High Court on May 1st,2021 in an emergency sitting, the court asked the Centre “Are you living in ivory towers? Where are you living? What you're saying is that because Delhi Government didn't raise the demand people should be allowed to die now? Is this what it's come to? You want to quibble while people are losing lives?”

Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, the counsel for GNCTD informed the bench of the non-availability of not only oxygen, but of tankers as well for the supply and transport of oxygen. The amicus curiae, Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao, submitted issues with regards to the allocation of oxygen supply and connected concerns.

"Delhi is allocated 30 MT from India Glycols, Kashipur. But it's not getting this, and can never get it. A plant in Dehradun faces 6 hrs power cut every daybecause of which production dips. So despite the allocation we are looking at many real-time issues. Beyond a point no one can be blamed. So what we need to do is augment supply. Because if 590 MT is allocated, 490 will perhaps be supplied," he started.

The bench also questioned the Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma in this regard, to which the court was informed about 12 new tankers provided to Delhi, but pleaded lack of instruction when questioned about the non-compliance to the order specifying supply of 700 MT medical oxygen in Delhi.

Further resolving the question of Army Deployment and Delhi Government’s request Seeking Support of the Armed Forced, Senior Lawyer Krishnan Venugopal informed the bench that the Centre’s response on Delhi Government’s Request seeking armed force deployment is still awaited, to which ASG Sharma affirmed that the matter is being looked into. To this, the court asked ASG Sharma to furnish reasons for non-deployment of army, in case there are any.

In the post lunch session, the court observed that Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) must take steps to increase awareness and keep a check on the misinformation being circulated at large in connection with COVID-19. 

Amicus Curiae Rao also said people must not indulge in hoarding of oxygen cylinder and suggested that media channels should not disseminate misinformation.

Senior Advocate Mehra, also apprised to the bench about the utility of the Mohalla- Clinics that could come in handy in a time like this, with ASG Sharma apprising the bench about the possibility of AIIMS-ICMR protocol being translated into vernacular, with AIIMS Directors videos to be put on the website to provide more reliable information.

The division bench comprising Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli have been making important observation and delivering orders routinely with the purpose of alleviating the havoc that COVID-19 has been wrecking in the country.

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