Karnataka

Seize records of oxygen supply in Chamarajanagar, Mysuru: HC

In a major setback to the State government, the High Court of Karnataka on Wednesday directed the Chief Secretary to immediately seize all the relevant records in the offices of the Deputy Commissioners of Chamarajanagar and Mysuru districts, and the Chamarajanagar district hospital on oxygen supply and correspondences amongst the authorities in the two districts for the relevant period.

The court issued this direction after taking serious exception to the decision of the State government to set up a commission of inquiry under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, and appointing a retired judge to probe incident of 24 COVID-19 patients in Chamarajanagar without taking prior approval from the court.

Also, the court directed the Chief Secretary to keep all the documents in his custody and make available the seized documents to a committee, set up by Karnataka State Legal Services Authority under the chairmanship of A.N. Venugopala Gowda, a retired judge of the High Court, for monitoring COVID-19 situation, for its assessment.

The government had appointed B.A. Patil, a retired judge of the High Court, as a one-man commission to conduct inquiry under the provisions of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952.

A Special Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Aravind Kumar, issued the directions while hearing a batch of PIL petitions related to COVID-19.

The Bench on Tuesday had taken suo motu cognisance of the death of COVD-19 patients in Chamarajanagar district based on the media reports, and had indicated to the State Advocate-General Prabhuling K. Navadgi that it was in favour of ordering a judicial probe by appointing a retired judge considering the seriousness of the issues related to death of COVID-19 patients allegedly due to lack of oxygen supply in Chamarajanagar, Kalaburagi, and other places.

The A-G, after taking instructions from the government, on Tuesday told the court that the government per se had no objection in court ordering judicial probe. However, the government, in the Cabinet meeting convened on Tuesday evening decided to set up the Commission of Inquiry.

When the A-G on Wednesday told the Bench about appointment of the Commission, the Bench termed the government’s conduct as “pre-emptory” in nature as the decision was taken without without informing the court, which was seized of the matter. “Intention of the government is very clear from the manner in which the whole thing is being done by the government... It is a pre-emptory order...we are not on you appointing a particular judge.... But in all fairness you should have left it to the court to appoint a retired judge to conduct an inquiry...,” the Bench observed asking A-G to immediately inform Chief Secretary to seize the documents.

The A-G later told the Bench that the Chief Secretary had entrusted the task of seizing the records to the IAS officer appointed to conduct preliminary inquiry into the incident.


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Printable version | Jun 21, 2021 6:33:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/seize-records-of-oxygen-supply-in-chamarajanagar-mysuru-hc/article34493444.ece

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