New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday stayed contempt proceedings initiated by Delhi High Court against central government officials for non-compliance of the direction to supply 700 MT of medical grade oxygen for COVID-19 patients in the national capital.
The stay, however, will not restrain the high court from monitoring the COVID-19 management related issues, a bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah said.
The top court, in an urgent hearing, directed that a meeting be held between officials of the Centre and Delhi government by this evening to discuss various aspects of augmenting the oxygen supply to the national capital.
“This is an all-India pandemic situation and we will have to find ways to ensure oxygen supply to the national capital as we are answerable to people of Delhi,” it said. “We are also in Delhi. We are helpless and have been on phone. We can imagine what citizens are going through,” Justice Chandrachud said, adding that his office is hearing cries from people including lawyers seeking help.
The top court said it cannot review its order of April 30 and the Centre will have to inch towards supply of 700 MT of oxygen daily for Delhi and asked the Union government to place before it a plan by Thursday morning as to how it will revamp the supply to 700MT.
It suggested that a committee of experts and doctors including those from private sector may be constituted to ascertain the situation in Delhi and take into account the COVID-19 situation which had been prevailing in Mumbai.
The top court, in nearly two-hour hearing, said that putting officers in jail is not going to bring oxygen to Delhi and questioned the Centre about the supply it has made to the national capital since May 3.
The bench said, “Let us ensure lives are saved by enhancing supply of around 150MT per day the quantity will come up to 700MT and number of lives will be saved.”
It was hearing the Centre’s appeal against Delhi High Court’s Tuesday order of issuing contempt notice and seeking personal appearance of its officials for non-compliance with the directions on supply of oxygen to treat COVID-19 patients.
The bench aid that it had ordered supply of 700 MT oxygen to Delhi daily from May 3 as the pandemic in Delhi is at a very critical stage .
“Putting officers in jail is not going to bring oxygen to the city, let us ensure lives are saved,” said the bench which also comprised justice M R Shah.
“This is not adversarial litigation. Centre, Delhi governments are elected and doing their best to serve COVID-19 patients,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said.
“Tell us how much oxygen you have allocated to Delhi in the last three days,” the bench said.