In the Delhi oxygen supply case, the Delhi HC on Tuesday came down hard on the Centre and issued a show-cause notice to it asking why HC should not initiate contempt proceedings. The news came a few days after the Delhi High Court had asked Centre to deliver the allotted amount of oxygen to the city. The HC had stated that if the Centre fails to do so, the court would be forced to hold the Centre in contempt.
Earlier on May 1, The Delhi High Court asked the Centre to make sure that Delhi receives its promised share of 490 MT of oxygen. The court had observed that the national capital had no cryogenic tankers that could enable constant supply of oxygen and hence, the Central govt must be held responsible for providing the oxygen.
“It falls on the Central government to arrange tankers ..(else) it only remains a paper allocation. The allocation to Delhi has been in force from April 20 and not for a single day Delhi has received allocated supply,” the court had said.
On May 4, the Delhi High Court bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli ruled- “We direct Central government to show cause why contempt action should not be taken for non-compliance of our order of May 1.” The bench of the justices also asked the presence of Piyush Goyal and Sumita Dawra on the next hearing date.
The HC also asked the Centre to make use of un-utilized oxygen tankers that are present in states like Maharashtra and divert them to Delhi.
“If the need for oxygen and tankers has depleted in Maharashtra, they could be diverted to Delhi. This is not a permanent arrangement. Whenever the need arises again, you can send them back,” the Delhi HC opined.
The Delhi HC also observed that the promised amount of oxygen has yet not been given to the Delhi. The court recorded that till now the national capital had not received the 700 MT of oxygen or the 490 MT of the oxygen as assured by the Centre.
When Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, who was representing the Centre said that the SC had not really asked the Centre to give 700 MT to Delhi, the court said, “We disagree. A plain reading of the Supreme Court order shows that the Supreme Court has directed the Centre to supply by making good the deficit..”
The Delhi High Court further added, “We see the grim reality everyday.. the situation has come to this that hospitals have had to reduce the number of beds..On one hand, there is need to augment capacities to meet the rising numbers, while on the other, the existing infrastructure is crumbling and available bed can’t be put to use..”
Further, the bench of Justices Sanghi and Palli also said how the promise made to the Supreme Court by Solicitor General who represented the Centre, saying the Delhi’s need for oxygen will be fulfilled has not yet met.
“..(the) assurance has not been fulfilled as small and large nursing homes and individuals are running to us..(with SoS calls)”, the bench observed.
During the hearing, the High Court also observed how experts from institutes like IITs and IIMs, could help with the consultation in the matter. The bench asked the Centre to use the given resources to its maximum potential.
Perhaps the statement that shows just how frustrated the Delhi High Court is with the Centre came when an advocate took the court through some of the demands the Delhi govt made. The HC remarked, “Because they made a demand of 300, people should suffer? Central govt is doing to quibble about these little things and let people die?..You don’t know (about the situation in Delhi)? You may put your head like an ostrich in the sand…we will not..”