Face contempt proceedings if oxygen supply is not met: Delhi HC warns Centre

May 01, 2021 04:03 pm | Updated May 02, 2021 12:17 am IST - New Delhi

In dire straits: People waiting in a queue at an oxygen plant in New Delhi on Friday.

In dire straits: People waiting in a queue at an oxygen plant in New Delhi on Friday.

The Delhi High Court on Saturday warned the Central government of initiating contempt proceedings against its officers for their failure to fullfill the 490 metric tonne of oxgen allocated for Delhi even for a single day.

A bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli said, “pertinently, the allocation to Delhi, which was earlier of 480 MT (since April 20, 2021), and now is of 490 MT has not been fulfilled even for a single day”.

“In case, this order is not implemented, the concerned officers of the Central Government viz. Mr. Piyush Goyal and Ms. Sunita Dawra shall remain present during the hearing on May 3,” the high court ordered.

“Looking to the situation, we make it clear that we may even consider initiating Contempt Proceedings in case of non-compliance,” the high court cautioned.

The High Court gave the direction after taking a serious view of a statement made by Dr. S. Bankata, Executive Director of Batra Hospital that there was a delay in supply of Oxygen due to which, Oxygen supply was interrupted for about an hour and a half, which has led to loss of 12 lives , including a doctor of the hospital.

Senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, informed the court at 03:05 p.m. that he has received an SOS message from Mr. Bidhuri, who is the officer tasked with the job of ensuring supply to hospitals in Delhi, that the reserves of the Delhi are exhausted.

Mr Mehra said there is no supply or minimal supply from the plants of Linde and Air Liquide on Saturday. Mr Mehra expressed serious concerns as to how the Capital would tide over the shortage on Saturday, as a lot of hospitals and nursing homes have run out of medical Oxygen, or would do so in the coming few hours.

“We direct the Central Government to ensure that NCT of Delhi receives its allocated supply of 490 MT positively today, by whatever means,” the high court ordered firmly.

During the hearing, the high court also remarked that Delhi is not an industrial State, and does not have availability of cryogenic tankers of its own which could be requisitioned under the Disaster Management Act — like other States have done.

“It falls upon the Central Government to arrange the tankers as well, so that the allocation made to Delhi could be fulfilled, lest it remains only a paper allocation,” the high court said.

“The Central Government shall ensure availability of cryogenic tankers as well for the said supply,” the high court added posting the case for further hearing on May 3.

The Bench said it appeared that there was a choking of beds taking place in hospitals and nursing homes. “Looking into the dearth and shortage of beds, particularly oxygen beds and beds in ICU, we consider it necessary to have this aspect looked into as there are allegations of malpractice, of patients not being discharged despite having recovered from the COVID-19 disease,” the High Court said.

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