Delhi High Court cautions on obstructing oxygen tankers

Delhi High Court. File  

The Delhi High Court on Monday cautioned that obstructing cryogenic tankers carrying medical oxygen for COVID-19 patients will tantamount to endangering human lives, after it was informed about stoppage of oxygen tankers in Rajasthan.

A Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli also asked the Delhi government to act tough on black marketing of oxygen cylinders, which it said are reportedly being sold at ₹1 lakh per unit in the Capital.

“We hope and expect the State of Rajasthan to honour the orders passed by the court and the Central government. An obstruction in the matter of liquid oxygen at this stage will tantamount to endangering hundreds of human lives. Stoppage of tankers by one State could have a snowballing effect,” the High Court said.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said that strict action would be taken against any persons involved.

During the hearing, several private hospitals objected to the manner in which oxygen supply to hospitals has been handled by the Delhi government. The Hospitals said they are being kept in the dark by the Delhi government with regard to the exact time and amount of oxygen supplied to them. “This anxiety is killing us,” said one of the lawyers representing the hospitals.

Solicitor General Mehta objected to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal writing to Sajjan Jindal, Managing Director of the JSW Group, seeking oxygen and tankers. Mr. Mehta said any surplus oxygen produced by the industries in India has to go the Central corpus for disbursement to States according to their needs.

Delhi government, represented by senior advocate Rahul Mehra, said it had only asked for assistance in procurement of oxygen cryogenic tankers and to get information on any surplus oxygen being produced by the industry.

The court also said it was not in agreement with the SG that there was no shortage of oxygen. “We know there is oxygen shortage on the ground,” the Bench said.

The court further directed the Centre to take steps to prioritise the clearance of customs for the import of RT-PCR testing kits from abroad.

Mr. Mehra informed the High Court that the Delhi government was in the process of importing 18 tankers, which shall be arriving soon and that four new tankers are also coming from another supplier.

The court also directed the Delhi Chief Secretary, who was present at the hearing, to hold a meeting with oxygen suppliers, refillers and hospitals during the day to work out a distribution plan.

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 4:48:38 AM |

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