Visibly shaken by the tragic death of eight patients due to lack of oxygen supply in a Delhi hospital today, the Delhi High Court on Saturday issued a strict direction to the Central Government to ensure that Delhi receives the allocated quantity of 490 MT oxygen today itself "by whatever means".
A division bench comprising Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli issued this direction in a special sitting held on Saturday.
"We direct Centre to ensure that Delhi receives its 490MT oxygen supply today by whatever means", the bench told the Central Government counsel.
"Now the water has gone over our head. Enough is enough", an exasperated Justice Sanghi told Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, who was appearing for the Centre.
"We are not asking for more than 490 MT. You have allocated it. Now it falls upon you to fulfill it", the judge told the Centre's lawyer.
The bench observed that although 490 MT per day is the quantity allocated by Centre for the National Capital Territory of Delhi, it has remained only a paper allocation till date, as the said quantity has never been received on any day.
"The allocation to Delhi has been in force from April 20 and not for a single day Delhi has received allocated supply", the bench said. It is for the Centre to arrange the tankers as well, the Court added.
The bench directed the Central Govt to ensure that the 490 MT allocated to Delhi be given to it today positively, lest it remain only a paper allocation, effective since a week now.
The Court even said that if the direction is not implemented, the concerned authority should remain present in the court on Monday, and warned that it might consider contempt action against the Central Government officers in such a case.
"If not implemented we will have the head of DPIIT(Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade) shall remain present, in case of non compliance we may consider initiating contempt proceedings", the bench warned.
When ASG Chetan Sharma tried to persuade the bench against passing the order by saying that the Supreme Court was also considering the same issue, the bench retorted :"Don't tell us that. Eight people have died. We can't shut our eyes to people dying in Delhi"
The bench was hearing an urgent application filed by Batra Hospital which said that it was facing acute shortage of medical oxygen. During the hearing, the hospital informed the bench that 8 patients who were in ICU, including a doctor, died due to oxygen shortage.
The bench also directed the Centre to ensure that the 4 oxygen tankers meant for Delhi, detained by Rajasthan, are released.
Delhi Government's counsel Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra told the bench that the oxygen situation was worsening and SOS calls were being received from many hospitals. Mehra said that major oxygen suppliers Inox and Air Lindae have "gone dry".