[Covid-19] Delhi HC comes down heavily on Central government; Warns Center of contempt proceedings if it fails to supply allocated medical Oxygen on urgent basis

Delhi High Court: The Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, JJ., slammed center government for its reckless attitude towards upsurging issue of non-availability of medical oxygen. The Bench came down heavily on center government and warned,

“The allocation to Delhi, which was earlier of 480 MT (since 20-04-2021), and now is of 490 MT has not been fulfilled even for a single day. In case, this order is not implemented…we make it clear that we may even consider initiating Contempt Proceedings in case of non-compliance.”

During the hearing, Dr. S. Bankata, Executive Director from Batra Hospital informed the Court that there was a delay in supply of Oxygen due to which Oxygen supply was interrupted for about an hour and a half, which had led to loss of 8 lives, including a doctor of the said hospital.

Similarly, counsel for NCT Delhi, Sr. Adv. Rahul Mehra had informed the Court that on the day of hearing itself, at 03:05 P.M. he had received an SOS message from Mr. Bidhuri, who is the officer tasked with the job of ensuring supply to hospitals in Delhi, that the reserves of the GNCTD were exhausted, and there was no supply/ minimal supply from the plants of Linde and Air Liquide. The senior counsel had expressed serious concerns over how the Capital would tide over the shortage for the day as a lot of hospitals and nursing homes had either run out of medical Oxygen, or would do so in the coming few hours.

Assessing the gravity of the matter, the Bench directed Central Government to ensure that NCT of Delhi receives its allocated supply of 490 MT positively today, by whatever means. The Bench added, considering the fact that Delhi is not an industrial State, and does not have availability of cryogenic tankers of its own which could be requisitioned under the Disaster Management Act, it falls upon the Central Government to arrange the tankers as well, so that the allocation made to Delhi could be fulfilled. The Bench ordered,

“The Central Government shall ensure availability of cryogenic tankers as well for the said supply.”

The Bench further observed that the allocation to Delhi, which was earlier of 480 MT (since 20-04-2021), and now is of 490 MT has not been fulfilled even for a single day. Hence, it warned the center government to face legal actions if the order is not implemented. Considering the harum-carum attitude of center towards Covid crises in the country the Bench made it mandatory for the concerned officers of the Central Government viz. Mr. Piyush Goyal and Ms. Sunita Dawra during the hearing on 03-05-2021. The Bench further made it clear that if the government does not wake up and comply with the directions of the Court it may even consider initiating Contempt Proceedings against it. Lastly, CGSC Mr. Amit Mahajan was directed to  ensure communication of the Order to the concerned officers.

[Rakesh Malhotra v. NCT of Delhi, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 1867, order dated 01-05-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

For the Petitioners: Sr. Adv. Sacchin Puri, with Adv. Praveen K. Sharma and
Adv. Dhananjay Grover

For the Union of India: SGI Tushar Mehta, ASG Chetan Sharma, CGSC Monika Arora, CGSC  Amit Mahajan, CGSC Anil Soni, CGSC Anurag
Ahluwalia, Adv. Shriram Tiwary, Adv. Amit Gupta, Adv. Akshay
Gadeock, Adv. Sahaj Garg and Adv. Vinay Yadav

For NCT of Delhi: Sr. Adv. Rahul Mehra, ASC Satyakam, Sr. Adv. Santosh
Tripathi, ASC Gautam Narayan, ASC Anuj Aggarwal, ASC Anupam Srivastava, Adv. Aditya P. Khanna, Adv. Dacchita Sahni, Adv. Ritika Vohra and Adv. Chaitanya Gosain

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