Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Taking into consideration the reason of urgency i.e., acute surge in Covid-19 pandemic from which people are suffering and dire need of Oxygen, the Division Bench of Ravi Ranjan, C.J., and Sujit Narayan Prasad, J., directed to release Oxygen cylinders which were lying in judicial custody in connection with various cases.

The AG, Mr. Rajiv Ranjan, had preferred this interlocutory application in which urgency had been shown for passing appropriate order for utilization of Oxygen cylinders which are lying in judicial custody in different districts in connection with various cases for the purpose of using those Oxygen cylinders to the persons who are suffering from Covid-19 pandemic and who are in need of Oxygen. The AG had urged that such Oxygen cylinders may be directed to be released in favour of concerned District Health Committee and once the situation will be normalized or there will no need of such Oxygen cylinders, the same will be returned to the concerned police station.

Opining that Oxygen cylinders are of prime importance in saving life of persons suffering from Covid-19 pandemic and that number of such Oxygen cylinders are lying in judicial custody in connection with various cases and if it would be released after imposing appropriate condition, no prejudice would be caused to the parties to the lis rather it will be more beneficial for the people at large, who are suffering from Covid-19 pandemic and further the State Government will be in better position in facilitating the treatment of persons who are suffering from Covid-19 pandemic and are in dire need of Oxygen, the Bench ordered to release the Oxygen cylinder(s) without prejudicing the right of the parties on following conditions:

  1. The District Health Committee of concerned district shall furnish an affidavit with an undertaking before the concerned court for release of such Oxygen cylinder(s).
  2. The undertaking shall contain all details of cylinder viz. quantity of oxygen or its weight etc. and further with specific undertaking that such cylinder would be returned within a period of three months or even earlier if it will be required by the Court.
  3. The Courts, where cases are pending shall pass necessary order by recording such undertaking furnished by the District Health Committee.
  4. The District Health Committee was further directed to ensure identification of such cylinders before release and further secure return of such Cylinder on “as is where is” basis.

Further, it was also directed that the Deputy Commissioner-cum of the District Health Committee concerned shall with consultation of Civil Surgeon of the respective district ensure efficacy of such cylinder(s) and only after testing its perfection it may be used in order to avoid any casualty.

Additionally, taking note of media report regarding precarious condition of Sadar Hospital and death of five patients there due to interruption in supply of Oxygen, the Bench stated,

It is very unfortunate that in the Sadar Hospital at Ranchi, as reported that five patients, who were suffering from Covid-19, have died due to interruption in supply of oxygen

Accordingly, the State was directed to conduct a detailed enquiry on the issue and fix accountability upon the erring person(s) and submit its report. Further, the AG was directed to apprise the Court by filing affidavit with respect to the arrangement made in the Sadar Hospitals of each and every district of the State as also the arrangement made at Medical College, Dhanbad, containing therein the details of beds supported with Oxygen, number of the doctors and para-medical staffs as also the position of oxygen in the said hospitals.

[Suo Motu v. State of Jharkhand, 2021 SCC OnLine Jhar 368, order dated 08-05-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

For the Petitioner: Rajendra Krishna, Advocate

For the State: Rajiv Ranjan, AG and Sachin Kumar, AAG-II

For the U.O.I.: Rajiv Sinha, A.S.G.I.

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

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