Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Dipankar Datta, Cj., and G. S. Kulkarni, J., expressed its displeasure on casual attitude of the authorities in complying with the Court’s orders. The Bench, while criticizing the strategy adopted by the State government for allocation of Remdesivir drug to the hospitals, said,

“The allotment of Remdesivir appears to have been made on the basis of ‘functional bed capacity’ of each of the hospitals. Such allocation whether would cater to the actual need of the patients has not been explained to us.”

The Bench observed that the data furnished by the State Government did not reflect a clear picture in regard to availability of ‘Remdesivir’to the needy patients, as the same had been done on the basis of ‘functional bed capacity’ of each of the hospitals. Expressing displeasure on the effectiveness of such allocation, the Bench directed the State to file an affidavit indicating whether it would cater to the actual need of the patients. The Bench clarified it to the government,

“Our concern would be solely that no patient who is in actual need of the drug in the course of his treatment is deprived of the availability of such drug. It may also happen that such drug being allocated on the basis of ‘functional capacity’ may result into allocation in a hospital wherein there is no real time requirement of the said drug.”

Noticing that the numbers of active patients are reduced almost by two lakhs, the Bench opined that proportionately the Oxygen requirement also ought to have reduced. Hence, the State government was directed to place on record the correct position in regard to the availability of Oxygen.

With regard to the extra legal supply of the medicine/drug Remdesivir at the hands of political and film personalities, the Bench directed the central as well as the state government to submit their records as to how such drug, which is in such short supply, is available to these personalities for distribution to public at large. The Bench further asked reports on whether Remdesivir as supplied by these personalities would suffice the medical test of being non-spurious and genuine. Commenting on a recent trend of submitting “brief notes” in compliances of Court’s order, the Bench expressed its displeasure over such practices and said, “the compliances should be placed on record by way of affidavits. Henceforth we do not permit and continue this practice of submitting ‘brief notes’.”

In regard to the issue of the dashboard indicating the correct figures of availability of beds, the Bench urged the Municipal Corporations concerned and the State Government to have expert opinion of all the stakeholders so that the dashboard reflects the correct picture. The Court suggested the authorities to get inputs of the Air Traffic Controller/Civil Aviation Department and the Railways for correct reflection of the data, information and technology used by them for preparation of up-to-date dashboards. The Bench opined that such facility should not only meet urgent requirement during the pandemic, but it should be available throughout for times to come in regard to all kinds of ailments requiring hospitalization. Hence, the Union of India, State Government, Municipal Corporations and all other authorities were directed to deliberate on such issues and make an endeavor to prepare an ideal dashboard.

[Sneha Nirav Marjadi v. State of Maharashtra, 2021 SCC OnLine Bom 734, order dated 19-05-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court by:

Counsels for the Petitioner: Simil Purohit a/w Arshil Shah, Nirav Marjadi, Dharmapal
Dave, Parisha Shah, Pariket Shah, Vishal Raman, Smita
Durve and Drasti Jani
Counsels for the State:  Akshay Shinde, B Panel Council with Addl. G.P. Geeta Shastri
For Municiple Council of Greater Mumbai: A.Y. Sakhare with Rohan Mirpury and K. H.
Counsels for UOI: ASG Anil C. Singh a/w Aditya Thakkar with D. P. Singh, Yash Momaya i/b  Gul Asnani
Counsel for Pune Municipal Corporation: Abhijit Kulkarni

Counsel for the Intervener: Nitin P. Deshpande

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Division Bench of Indrajit Mahanty and Vinit Kumar Mathur JJ. laid down important directions regarding COVID.

The present order entails important directions laid down by the Court which are as follows:

  1. State is directed to make available the position of beds on their website on a “Real Time Basis”.
  2. The projection of vacancies of the beds may be reflected immediately on the portal without sticking to the time schedule of three times a day.
  3. The State Government as well as Central Government are directed to ensure the adequate supply of oxygen and other medicines required to deal with the situation in the State of Rajasthan on war footing.
  4. The supply of oxygen and medicines should be ensured in the Government hospitals as well private hospitals without their being any distinctions.
  5. The competent authorities of the State Government are directed to supply the medicines in particular Remdesivir injection on receipt of the requisition urgently and not later than two hours.
  6. State Government is also directed to explore the possibility of operation of oxygen generation plants in the State, which are not in operation but the same are capable of producing oxygen, forthwith, including the one located at Mahatama Gandhi Hospital at Jodhpur.
  7. The State Government is also directed to consider taking the services of final year students as well as PG courses students of MBBS/Post Graduation for the doctors and likewise for the nursing staff for their deployment on the emergent basis if they are suitable in all respects to serve the general public at large
  8. State Government shall ensure compliance of this order and file affidavit to this effect before the next date including the details about the sourcing of oxygen and other medicines for the treatment of COVID.

In view of the above, matter is listed for 06-05-2021

[Surendra Jain v. State of Rajasthan, D.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 6814/2021, decided on 04-05-2021]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this report together

Counsel for the petitioner: Mr. Kshmendra Singh

Counsel for the respondent: Mr. Karan Singh Rajpurohit and Mr. Mukesh Rajpurohit

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Delhi High Court: The Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, JJ., while addressing concerns with regard to COVID-19, expressed that

“…nation is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is at times like this, that we – the people, need to stand up to showcase our best qualities and virtues, which all of us have.   To fight this scourge, we need to collectively conduct ourselves with sensitivity and empathy towards one and all – irrespective of whether the infected persons are our friends or relatives, or strangers.”

Bench while considering the prevailing COVID-19 Pandemic situation particularly in relation to the NCT of Delhi, appointed Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao as an Amicus Curiae to assist the Court.

Senior Advocate, Malvika Trivedi had suggested that the creation of a portal to trac the supply chain of medicines, such as Remedisivir and supply of Oxygen on real time basis could reduce the hoarding and black marketing of these products.

To examine the above-stated, Court called upon the Director, IIT as well as the NIC to send their representatives to the Court and accordingly Professor Sanjay Dhir was present and from the NIC, Mr Iqbal Hassan was present.

Delay in Discharge || Insurance Companies

One aspect that was argued was in relation to the clearance of the cases by the Third-Party Administrators (TPAs) who represented the insurance companies.

About the above-stated, Bench was informed that the time of discharge of the patient from the hospital – after the COVID treatment was over, the process of grant of No Objection Certificates (NOCs) by the TPAs was taking long time, anywhere between 5 to 8 hours resulting in delayed discharge of the patient and consequent, delay in admission of the next patient.

“…there is a long que of people who are waiting to get admitted to hospitals for proper treatment and such delays are bound to result in more suffering for the patients and their attendants.”

Hence, the Court directed all the Insurance Companies and their TPAs to ensure that the time taken to grant the NOCs is reduced so that such problems do not arrive.

Senior Advocate, Krishnan Venugopal made certain suggestions:

  • Problem: There is a large section of the medical doctors who, on account of the raging pandemic, are confined to their homes, and are not on the field to treat the COVID patients. A lot of patients developing COVID-19 symptoms do not get access to doctors for the purpose of seeking advice and the delayed start in treatment leads to complications resulting in hospitalization.

Solution: Government could invite such Doctors to volunteer to render their advice/consultation through video/teleconferencing mode by adopting ICMR protocols for the treatment of COVID19 patients. Doctors who offer their services could then be assigned calls through a centralized system.

Bench stated that the above suggestion was worth consideration, hence Centre and GNCTD were directed to examine the same.

  • Another suggestion was that under Regulation 301 of Defence Service Regulation, Regulations for the Army, there is provision for rending services by the Armed Forces in aid of civil authorities in aid of maintenance of essential services and similar Regulation exists in respect of Air Force and Navy.

Solution: To this, he submitted that if a request was received from any State Government, with approval of the Central Government, such services could be provided. Adding to this, it was stated that armed forces could set up field hospitals in terms of the said rules looking to a large number of COVID Patients in NCT of Delhi.

Court stated that let GNCTD examine the said aspect.

  • Usage of ambulances. Ambulances at present are not being used only for the purpose of faring patients from their homes to hospitals. Many of them re-engaged in transporting the dead bodies to the cremation grounds and burial grounds and looking at the large numbers, they have to wait in queue.

GNCTD should consider the usage of old DTC buses instead, for transporting the dead bodies in ambulances, so that the ambulances could be made available for faring the patients to the hospitals.

Bench stated that GNCTD to consider the stated suggestion.

Court taking the Orders passed by the GNCTD on 27th and 28th April, 2021 on record and directed that the same be implemented forthwith.

Streamlining of Supply Chain

Bench further noted that the re-fillers have assured the Court on their behalf as well as on behalf of the others, that they shall comply with the allocation orders issued by the GNCTD – both in letter and spirit.  The re-fillers also made suggestions for consideration, so as to streamline the supply chain.

Naresh Gupta representing Paramount Cryogases and Salasar Gases suggested that some of the re-fillers could be given the responsibility of supplying to the hospitals. To this Mr Mehra submitted that the suggestions by re-fillers will be considered.

Court stated for the above stated that in the meantime, the GNCTD shall continue to supply Oxygen cylinders to individual consumers who require the same, as they have been doing till now.

Bench remarked that, we have to shun selfishness, greed and indifference.

 Court appealed to the good sense of the people, including the sellers of necessary medicines and Oxygen, to not to resort to hoarding of, and black marketing of Oxygen cylinders, Oxygen flow metres or medicines, and to make them available to the needy people.

Hoarding of medicines or Oxygen cylinders/ flow metres leads to artificial scarcity, to an extent which may not be there.

 High Court also noted an incident which took place at Apollo Hospital, where the hospital staff and doctors were assaulted by the relatives of one of the patients.

For the above stated, Bench remarked:

Such like incidents are bound to de- moralise the medical community, which is serving tirelessly to save the lives of the people without any rest or break whatsoever, at personal risk.

 Court directed the authorities, including the Police to be mindful of such like situation, and be vigilant to prevent any such untoward incidents.

Senior Advocate, Tushar Rao made a suggestion that the mohalla clinics set up by the GNCTD could also be used for the purpose of providing immediate consultation treatment to the patients and also for the purpose of collection of samples for testing.

With regard to the above suggestion, Court stated that GNCTD should examine the said proposal and also place the status report regarding the number of RT-PCR Tests conducted in the NCT of Delhi by the accredited labs in last 7 days along with the testing capacity of these accredited labs. The reasons for the fall in the numbers of tests conducted by them should also be disclosed in the report.

Mr Mehra has submitted that there have been occasions when SOS calls have been received for supply of medical Oxygen by hospitals and nursing homes, and upon visit, it has been found that the urgency expressed was not genuine.

Bench hoped and appealed to all the hospitals and nursing homes, to not raise false alarms as it puts unnecessary strain on the system which is already under tremendous stress.

Since the medical oxygen that has been allocated for NCT of Delhi has not been received in full quantity, Court requested the amicus to study the said allocation order issued by the Union of India and he has any suggestions, so as to optimise the tanker usage and minimise the turn around time, he may communicate the same to Mr Tushar Mehta, the Solicitor General, since he has very graciously offered to have the same examined.

“…we hope and expect that the Central Government to look at the logistics problem being faced in transportation of Oxygen from the said plants to NCT of Delhi.”

 [Bhavreen Kandhari v. GNCTD, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 1829, decided on 28-04-2021]

Case BriefsCOVID 19Supreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud, L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has clarified that the purpose for taking the suo motu cognisance the “grim” situation of the country hit by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic and non-availability of COVID-19 essentials was not to supplant or to substitute the judicial process which is being conducted in several High Courts across the country under Article 226 of the Constitution.

“The High Courts are well suited to make an assessment of the ground realities which prevail in each State and to find flexible solutions to deal with practical concerns of and the serious hardships faced by the citizens. Hence, there is no reason or justification to interdict the exercise of the jurisdiction of the High Courts in responding to the human problems faced by the citizens in the States and Union Territories and to find solutions with the cooperation of the authorities.”

However, in a time of national crisis, such as the one which is confronting the nation today as a consequence of the pandemic, the Supreme Court cannot stand silent as a mute spectator. This court has a constitutional duty to protect the fundamental rights traceable to Part III of the Constitution.

“The role of this Court in the present situation is complementary to the role and functions being performed by the High Courts. Neither is intended to substitute the other. Indeed, there may be certain national issues or issues of a systemic nature which have their origin beyond boundaries of a particular State. These issues which travel beyond state boundaries will require a comprehensive national approach if we are to alleviate the immense suffering caused by the pandemic. It is with the consciousness of this duty that this Court has assumed jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution.”

The Court, hence, clarified that the High Courts shall not be restrained by the pendency of these proceedings in passing appropriate orders to deal with the emerging situation in each State or Union Territory concerned, as and when necessary to do so.

The Court has also asked the Central Government to apprise it on

(i) Supply of oxygen –

(a) The projected demand for oxygen in the country at the present point of time and in the foreseeable future;

(b) The steps taken and proposed to augment the availability of oxygen, meeting both the current and projected requirements;

(c) The monitoring mechanism for ensuring the supply of oxygen, particularly to critically affected States and Union Territories as well as the other areas;

(d) The basis on which allocation of oxygen is being made from the central pool; and

(e) The methodology adopted for ensuring that the requirements of the States are communicated to the Central Government on a daily basis so as to ensure that the availability of oxygen is commensurate with the need of each State or, as the case may be, Union Territory.

(ii) Enhancement of critical medical infrastructure, including the availability of beds, Covid treatment centres with duly equipped medical personnel on the basis of the projected requirement of healthcare professionals and anticipated requirements. The Union government will consider framing a policy specifying the standards and norms to be observed for admitting patients to hospitals and covid centres and the modalities for admission;

(iii) The steps taken to ensure due availability of essential drugs, including Remdesivir and Favipiravir among other prescribed drugs and the modalities which have been set up for controlling prices of essential drugs, for preventing hoarding and for ensuring proper communication of the requirements at the level of each District by the District health authorities or Collectors to the Health Departments of the States and thereafter by the states to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare so that the projected requirements are duly met and effectively monitored on a daily basis.

(iv) Vaccination

(a) Presently two vaccinations have been made available in the country, namely, Covishield and Covaxin; (

  1. b) As of date, the vaccination programme has extended to all citizens of the age of 45 years and above;

(c) From 1 May 2021, the vaccination programme is to be opened up also to persons between the age groups of 18 to 45, in addition to the existing age group categories.

The Union of India shall clarify

(i) the projected requirement of vaccines as a result of the enhancement of coverage;

(ii) the modalities proposed for ensuring that the deficit in the availability of vaccines is met;

(iii) steps proposed for enhancement of vaccine availability by sourcing stocks from within and outside the country;

(iv) modalities for administering the vaccines to meet the requirements of those in the older age group (forty five and above) who have already received the first dose;

(v) modalities fixed for administering the vaccine to meet the additional demand of the 18-45 population;

(vi) how the supplies of vaccines will be allocated between various states if each state is to negotiate with vaccine producers; and

(vii) steps taken and proposed for ensuring the procurement of other vaccines apart from Covishield and Covaxin and the time frame for implementation; and

(d) The basis and rationale which has been adopted by the Union government in regard to the pricing of vaccines. The government shall explain the rationale for differential pricing in regard to vaccines sourced by the Union government on one hand and the states on the other hand when both sources lead to the distribution of vaccines to citizens.

Panel of Medical Experts

A panel of medical experts to be nominated by the Central government to disseminate authentic information on all aspects including in regard to the steps which have to be taken for combating the pandemic. The Union of India may consider formulating modalities for ensuring due communication of advisories on a daily basis by the panel of nominated experts. This model may be replicated at the level of each State. This will ensure the dissemination of authentic information.

Amicus curiae

Senior Advocates Jaideep Gupta and Meenakshi Arora have been appointed as amicus curiae after Senior Advocate Harish Salve requested to be relieved of the nomination by the Court.


For UOI: SGI Tushar Mehta

For States: Senior Advocates Vikas Singh, Dr A M Singhvi, Niranjan Reddy, Ranjit Kumar, Rahul Mehra, Standing Counsels Rahul Chitnis and Sachin Patil

Bar Association of India: Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar and

Gujarat High Court Bar Association: Senior Advocate Yatin Oza

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has taken suo motu cognisance of the “grim” situation of the country hit by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic and has asked the Central Government to report on,

  1. The existence or otherwise and requirement of setting up of a coordinating body that would consider allocation of COVID resources in a consultative manner (with the involvement of concerned States and Union 3 Territories).
  2. Considering declaration of essential medicines and medical equipment including the Drugs, oxygen and vaccination as essential commodities in relation to COVID.
  3. In respect of coordination of logistical support for inter-State and Intra-State transportation and distribution of the above resources.

Due to the sudden surge in the number of covid patients and mortality, the nation is witnessing a shortage of essential COVID resources such as Oxygen and drugs like Remdesivir.

While, drugs, oxygen and vaccination availability and distribution are being carried out by Governments including the Central government according to protocols established by the health authorities, the Court noticed that a certain amount of panic has been generated and people have invoked the jurisdiction of several High Courts in the country seeking various reliefs such as Delhi, Bombay, Sikkim, M.P., Calcutta, Allahabad and Gujarat.

“The High Courts have passed certain orders which may have the effect of accelerating and prioritising the services to a certain set of people and slowing down the availability of these resources to certain other groups whether the groups are local, regional or otherwise.”

The Court was hence, of the prima facie view that the distribution of these essential services and supplies must be done in an even handed manner according to the advice of the health authorities which undoubtedly take into account relevant factors like severity, susceptibility, the number of people affected and the local availability of resources.

It, hence, asked the Central Government to place before it a national plan for dealing with the above services and supplies during Pandemic.

The Court, hence, issued notice to the Union Government, the State Governments/Union Territories and the parties, who appeared to have approached the High Courts to show cause why uniform orders be not passed in relation to

  1. a) Supply of oxygen;
  2. b) Supply of essential drugs;
  3. c) Method and manner of vaccination; and
  4. d) Declaration of lockdown.

The Court will hear the matter tomorrow i.e. on 23.04.2021.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, assisted by advocate Anuradha Dutta, has been appointed as Amicus Curiae to assist the Court in the matter.