Centre tries to move Covid matters out of HC but fails
New Delhi: The Central government on Monday tried to shift proceedings in the matter related to the mismanagement of Covid-19 — specifically the supply of medical oxygen to Delhi's hospitals — from the Delhi High Court to the Supreme Court where the matter has already been taken up, with the bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli disagreeing.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma told the court, "The court has seen the directions laid down by SC...now that the SC has laid down the mechanism and parties are before the Supreme Court, let the matter be heard before it…"
However, the court took exception, saying, "The SC has said so far as oxygen supply is concerned but there is nothing on beds and dearth of hospitals…" On this, ASJ Sharma submitted, "I am just saying that it shouldn't be that this court is the executing court".
However, the court refused to accept the argument and shot back, "We all have to implement and we all are duty-bound…"
In response, ASG Sharma stated that orders should be passed only in areas that have been adjudicated by the Supreme Court, "There is an exercise before the Supreme Court... compulsory licensing, patents act finds mention".
Justice Sanghi again shot back, "You cannot tell us that we are not entitled to ask(on oxygen supply matter)..."
"No, I was not suggesting that…" ASG Sharma said.
Meanwhile, arguing on the question of jurisdiction exercised in the matter by the High Court, senior advocate Krishnan Venugopalan submitted that nothing stopped the HC from implementing the SC orders. "We consider it our duty to implement the directions given out by the Supreme Court," Justice Sanghi stated.
Moreover, during the hearing, one Santom Hospital raised an SOS claiming that oxygen supplier Seth Air is refusing to give them their allocated amount and they only have two hours of oxygen supply left for the 119 patients they are currently treating.
"We cannot do this fire fighting during the hearing of the matter," the court said, asking it to contact the nodal officer or Additional Standing Counsel Satyakam.
Further, advocate Rohit Priya Ranjan, appearing on behalf of Goyal Gases, told the court that his tankers have been stopped and threatened at Batra Hospital where it was doing to deliver the oxygen supply and that the authorities told them to deliver 5 MTs instead of the allocated 2.5 MTs.
The court took strong note of this and stated, "No hospital should be allowed to haul up any tanker...indiscipline should not be tolerated". It also passed an order stating the same observations.
Amicus curiae senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao informed the court about the issue of last-mile connectivity where smaller stations and smaller hospitals have no buffer amount of oxygen.
INOX and Goyal Gases also raised grievances pertaining to longer times being taken at oxygen re-filling stations. On this, the Amicus stated that the present filling stations are not meant to deal with the demand and the only solution is to have more tankers, following which the court told the Centre and State to sort out the matter.