Delhi HC contempt case against Centre won't bring oxygen: SC
The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the operation of a Delhi High Court order regarding a show-cause notice for contempt to the Centre for failing to supply adequate oxygen. The SC said that hauling up government officers will not solve the issue of oxygen shortage. The court also asked the central and Delhi governments to take lessons from the "Mumbai model" on oxygen management.
SC heard matter after Delhi HC noted non-compliance of orders
The SC bench was headed by Justice DY Chandrachud and comprised Justice MR Shah. Solicitor General Tushar Mehra represented the Centre and advocate Rahul Mehra appeared for the Delhi government. The Delhi HC's notice to the Centre was issued in view of the latter's failure to comply with an SC order directing it to supply 700 metric tonnes (MT) of oxygen to the city.
Pulling up officers for contempt won't solve the crisis: SC
According to LiveLaw, the SC noted, "Hauling up officers taking recourse to contempt jurisdiction will not itself resolve the problems confronting Delhi. When the country is facing the pandemic, the effort of the court must be to solve the problem by actively engaging with stakeholders."
Current bed-oxygen formula not scientific, SC notes
The SG argued that the allocation of oxygen for each state is on the basis of a formula designed by experts and the Delhi government's demand of 700 MT was not justified. Justice Chandrachud questioned if a formula based on assumptions is scientific. "Different states are peaking at different points of time...You cannot have a general assessment for the entire country," he observed.
Increase in oxygen supply, target yet to be achieved: SC
The SC noted that Delhi received 431 MT of oxygen on April 28, followed by 409 MT, 324 MT, 324 MT, 447 MT, 433 MT the next few days with 555 MT on Tuesday. The 700 MT target remains unachieved, it said. It also directed the Centre to submit a tabulated plan of supplying 700 MT to Delhi by 10:30 am on Thursday.
Adopt measures taken by Mumbai civic body in Delhi: SC
The SC also referred to the success of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) handling of COVID-19. The Centre was directed to hold a meeting with BMC Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Chalhal to adopt the same measures in Delhi. "Until this exercise is complete, Delhi must have a hoarding of 700 MT," the court ordered, "We need to inch as close a possible to 700 MT."
'Major oxygen plant was shut down, shortage of containers'
The SC asked the Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Piyush Goyal, as to how 700 MT could be provided to Delhi. Goyal replied that a major oxygen production plant was shut down, adding that the shortage of containers was an issue. The court asked the Centre how it would enhance oxygen supply and said it will reconvene on May 10.
Audit to determine Delhi's oxygen demand
Further, the SC stated that it will entertain the Centre's submission regarding Delhi's oxygen requirement provided an audit led by an expert committee is conducted to gauge the exact demand. It was submitted that the Centre has attempted to increase the medical oxygen stock across India and that 9,000 MT is available in the pool for distribution.