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Non-Supply Of Oxygen Criminal Act, Not Less Than Genocide : Allahabad High Court Orders Enquiry Into COVID Deaths

Akshita Saxena
4 May 2021 5:04 PM GMT
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In a strongly worded order concerning death of Covid-19 patients due to shortage of Oxygen supply, the Allahabad High Court stated that authorities responsible for procurement and supply of the gas are committing criminal acts.

"We are at pain in observing that death of Covid patients just for non supplying of oxygen to the hospitals is a criminal act and not less than a genocide by those who have been entrusted the task to ensure continuous procurement and supply chain of the liquid medical oxygen," a Division bench comprising of Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar observed.

The stern remarks were made in view of viral news and social media posts regarding death of Covid patients due to lack of Oxygen in the districts of Meerut and Lucknow. The Division Bench also noted that people are being harassed, and made to beg for Oxygen cylinders to save the life of their near and dear ones, both at the end of district administration and police administration.

"How can we let our people die in this way when science is so advanced that even heart transplantation and brain surgery are taking place these days," the Bench remarked further noting that these news items show a quite contrary picture to one claimed by the Government regarding sufficient supply of oxygen.

The Court has therefore asked the District Magistrate, Lucknow and District Magistrate, Meerut to enquire into the matter of such news items within 48 hours and submit their reports on the next date fixed respectively. They are also directed to appear before the Court online on the next date fixed.

The order stated,

"Normally, we would have not directed the State and district administration to enquire into such news that have been viralled on social media but since the Advocates who were appearing in this PIL supported such news and even submitted that more or less situations in other districts of State are the same, we find it necessary to direct for immediate remedial measures to be taken by the Government."

The news items that the Bench was referring to pertain to death of five patients in ICU of a new trauma centre of Medical College in Meerut. The Court also perused reports of two hospitals, in Lucknow and in Meerut, that took their hands off the admitted Covid patients only for the reason that oxygen supply was not made even after demand.

Significantly, a suggestion was made during the hearing by a 3rd year law student, Utsav Mishra, for distribution of Remdesivir Injection and Oxygen cylinder, which are confiscated by the Police from illegal possessions, to district administration

The AAG assured that he will take up the issue with the State Government so that proper disposal of the articles like oxygen cylinder, Remdesivir Injection and oximeter is done and is not wasted.

In its previous order, the High Court specifically observed that supply of Oxygen must be ensured at all hospitals so that no one dies for want of oxygen.

'No One Should Die For Want Of Oxygen': Allahabad High Court Issues Directions For Uninterrupted Supply

Recently, the Karnataka High Court suggested that a judicial probe be conducted by a retired high court judge into the incident of May 4, where 24 people died at a Covid-19 treatment facility at Chamarajanagar allegedly due to oxygen shortage.

Also Read: "We Don't Want To Hear People Crying for Oxygen Cylinders": Supreme Court -Courtroom Exchange In Suo Motu Covid Hearing

Case Title: In-Re Inhuman Condition At Quarantine Centres…

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