Punjab and Haryana High Court: The Division Bench of Rajan Gupta and Karamjit Singh, JJ., asked the governments Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to consider providing home delivery of oxygen cylinder for those patients who are on oxygen support at home to reduce the burden of health workers.

Factual Matrix of the Case

The Amicus Curiae, Mr. Khosla, had brought it to the notice of the Court that situation in Haryana had become extremely grim as its quota of oxygen had been reduced by 20 MT from the Panipat plant. Besides, the said plant had over heated and is, thus, not functioning at 100% capacity. The allocation of 70 MT made from Rourkela plant takes about four days to reach Haryana. He had further pointed out that one C.K. Birla Hospital, Gurugram has 17 critical patients in the hospital who are completely dependent on oxygen but hospital has supply left only till 3 PM that day. He further added that other hospitals must be facing the same difficulty.

Another apprehension expressed by the Amicus Curiae was that availability of beds in various Government and private hospitals is limited. Therefore, many patients had to stay at home for whom availability of oxygen support is not easy.

Observations and Directions by the Court

Regarding the assertion of State of Haryana and the State of Punjab that they be allowed to get oxygen from even one plant which is situated nearby and which can supply oxygen expeditiously, the Bench sought response from the Counsel for Central Government, Mr. Satya Pal Jain.

On the submission of Mr. Mittal that if timely supply of oxygen is not made, the situation is so critical that several lives may be lost in the State in next 24 hours, the Bench, in the light of order of the Supreme Court dated 30-04-2021 wherein direction had been given for creation of ‘buffer emergency stock’ with the collaboration of State and the Centre to avoid further loss of life, stated that,

“In case of crisis, however, State is at liberty to draw from the ‘buffer stock’ of oxygen created under orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 30.4.2021 in Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.3 of 2021.”

The Bench further directed that in case it is found that there is hoarding of any sort, the SDM concerned shall be at liberty to seek police help which shall come into action immediately and take action as the circumstances warrant. Observing that if proper oxygen supply is available to those patients who are on oxygen support at home, it would reduce the pressure on the Administration as well as on the Government and Private hospitals, the Bench directed the States to consider home delivery of oxygen cylinders preferably by Municipal Authorities as Health personnel are already overburdened. Further, the States of Punjab and Haryana were directed by the Court to make special arrangements on the same lines as UT, Chandigarh to ensure that oxygen is promptly supplied to the patients who are on oxygen support at home. For this purpose, dedicated telephone numbers shall be publicized by way of broadcast and on TV/Radio as well through the telephone companies. The Bench added,

“In case any report of disobedience of these orders is received by this court, it shall consider initiating punitive action.”

Similarly, the directions were also issued to the state governments to consider whether any such unused equipment is available in any other part of State to ensure that it is put to use in this emergent situation. Lastly, the Bench added,

“Needless to observe that this court expects that the necessary steps are taken at the earliest to ensure that there is no further loss of life due to paucity of oxygen in the State.”

[Rishi v. State of Haryana, 2021 SCC OnLine P&H 799, order dated 04-05-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

Amicus Curiae: Sr, Adv. Rupinder Khosla with Adv. Sarvesh Malik

For the Applicants: Adv. Karan Bhardwaj and Adv. Sardavinder Goyal

For State of Haryana: AAG Ankur Mittal

For State of Punjab: AAG Vikas Mohan Gupta

For UT of Chandigarh: SSC Pankaj Jain with Adv. Jaivir Chandail and APP J.S. Toor

Mr. Anupam Gupta, Senior Advocate with

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