The Supreme Court has requested a national strategy to address the COVID-19 crisis, including oxygen supply.
SC declares the situation a national emergency and requests information on oxygen, drug supplies, and vaccinations.
New Delhi: On Thursday (April 22), the Supreme Court took suo motu cognizance of Covid management and requested a national plan from the Centre on oxygen supply, critical drug supply, and vaccination method and manner on a day when India reported 3.14 lakh Covid cases and over 2,104 deaths in a single day.
“We want to see a national plan on the issue,” said a bench led by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde. Senior advocate Harish Salve was also named as amicus curiae in the case by the bench.
“We want to know,” the bench said. "In relation to the four issues of oxygen availability, critical medication supply, vaccine process, and manner. We will want to keep the ability to declare a state of emergency for the states.”
When High Courts across the country are hearing petitions in connection with a crisis of oxygen supply, hospital beds, and a shortage of the anti-viral medication Remdesivir in hospitals, the Supreme Court took notice of Covid management.
Six High Courts — Delhi, Bombay Sikkim, MP, Calcutta, and Allahabad — were flooded with cases related to Covid management, according to the bench, which was causing uncertainty. “We as a court wish to take suo motu cognizance of certain issues,” the court said. "They (the High Courts) are acting in the public interest. However, it causes chaos and displaces resources.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the country is in desperate need of oxygen during a separate hearing during which Vedanta sought to repair and restart an oxygen plant in Tuticorin that can produce thousands of tonnes of oxygen for COVID-19 patients. Since 2018, the plant has been closed due to environmental violations. “The present situation is like a national emergency,” the Chief Justice noted.
The Supreme Court also ordered the government to submit a national plan. A hearing has been set for Friday in this case.
The Delhi High Court has been hearing cases involving emergency appeals for oxygen and other services for hospitals in the region.
The citizens can only depend on the State government, according to the High Court. “It is the responsibility of the government. Beg… borrow… or steal, it is your job,” said the High Court.
“How is the government so oblivious of the reality on the ground? You cannot have people dying because of no oxygen. You take your own sweet time, and people die”, the High Court had said on Wednesday.