8 May 2021 1:01 PM GMT
The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to strictly observe its earlier direction of providing 700 MT of medical oxygen to the National Capital Territory of Delhi on a daily basis and affirmed that there shall be no reduction in the allocation and availability of medical oxygen.Observing that the Centre is under an obligation to ensure a daily supply of 700 MT to meet the existing...
The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to strictly observe its earlier direction of providing 700 MT of medical oxygen to the National Capital Territory of Delhi on a daily basis and affirmed that there shall be no reduction in the allocation and availability of medical oxygen.
Observing that the Centre is under an obligation to ensure a daily supply of 700 MT to meet the existing requirements of the NCT of Delhi, a division bench comprising of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah ordered thus:
"700 MT was not intended to be a requirement to be fulfilled for one day or sporadically, but on a daily basis. Daily basis means for every day. We accordingly direct, that there shall be no reduction in the allocation and availability of medical oxygen to NCTD and the direction in regard to the provision of 700 MT per day shall continue to be observed."
The development came after the Centre placed on record that a quantity of 16,000 MT of liquid medical oxygen is available in the country as on April 21. Earlier, the Court had recorded the submission of the Union Government that there is "no dearth of oxygen"
The Court went ahead to note that "except for a bare assertion" that an increase of 210 MT to Delhi would result in a corresponding reduction to other States, "no material had been produced on the record by the Centre."
"Except for a bare assertion that an increase of 210 MT to NCTD would result in a corresponding reduction to other States, no material has been produced on the record by the Union of India".
The Court also said that there was no error in the demand projection made by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi and that its projection was based on the formula evolved by the Centre.
The Court ordered thus:
"The attention of the Court has not been drawn to any error in the methodology of computation which has been adopted by GNCT. GNCTD has drawn the attention of the Court to the serious deficiency in the availability of oxygen. This indicates that on 6 May 2021, the total quantity of oxygen delivered to NCTD was 577 MT, resulting in a shortfall of 123 MT. As of 9 am on 7 May 2021, the total quantity which has been received at NCTD border is 87.97 MT, while 9.64 MT is under transit. We direct the Union of India to remedy the situation forthwith and to ensure that the direction issued by this Court for the availability of 700 MT is strictly observed on a daily basis, pending further orders."
The Court passed the order in a special leave petition filed by the Central Government challenging a contempt notice issued by the Delhi High Court over non-supply of 700 MT oxygen to Delhi. Though the Supreme Court stayed the contempt notice, it has affirmed the direction to supply 700 MT to Delhi.
The Court has also constituted a 12 member National Task Force to formulate a methodology for scientific allocation of liquid medical oxygen to all the States and Union Territories in order to deal with the dearth of oxygen supply amid the second Covid wave.
While constituting the said National Task Force, the Court has directed the Centre to continue the present practice of making allocations of oxygen until the Task Force has submitted its recommendations in regard to proposed modalities. Furthermore, the Court has requested the Task Force to commence it's work immediately for "taking up the pressing issue of determining the modalities for oxygen expeditiously within a week".
Case Title : Union of India vs Rakesh Malhotra
Coram : Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah
Citation : LL 2021 SC 250
Click here to read/download the order