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Show Cause Why Uniform Orders Not Be Passed By Supreme Court In COVID Related Issues : SC Issues Notice To Centre, States, UTs & Parties Before HCs

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
22 April 2021 2:45 PM GMT
Show Cause Why Uniform Orders Not Be Passed By Supreme Court In COVID Related Issues : SC Issues Notice To Centre, States, UTs & Parties Before HCs
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Taking suo moto cognizance of issues related to distribution of essential supplies and services during the pandemic, the Supreme Court has issued notice to Centre, State Governments, Union Territories and the parties who have approached the High Courts to show-cause why uniform orders not be passed by the Supreme Court in COVID-19 related issues.A bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA...

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Taking suo moto cognizance of issues related to distribution of essential supplies and services during the pandemic, the Supreme Court has issued notice to Centre, State Governments, Union Territories and the parties who have approached the High Courts to show-cause why uniform orders not be passed by the Supreme Court in COVID-19 related issues.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde took this suo moto action in the case "In Re : Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services During Pandemic" after noting that at least seven High Courts have been considering matters related to supply of oxygen, medicines, hospital services etc., to COVID-19 patients.

The Supreme Court observed that the orders passed by various High Courts "may have the effect of accelerating and prioritising the services to a certain set of people and slowing down the availability of these resources to certain other groups whether the groups are local, regional or otherwise".

In this backdrop, the bench, also including Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, ordered :

"...we direct that notices be issued to the Union Government, the State Governments/Union Territories and the parties, who appeared to have approached the High Courts to show cause why uniform orders be not passed by this Court in relation to

a)Supply of oxygen;

b)Supply of essential drugs;

c)Method and manner of vaccination; and

d)Declaration of lockdown".

"Prima facie, we are inclined to take the view that the distribution of these essential services and supplies must be done in an even handed manner according to the advice of the health authorities which undoubtedly take into account relevant factors like severity,susceptibility, the number of people affected and the local availability of resources", the bench said in the order.

The Court also asked the Central Government to place before it a national plan for dealing with the above services and supplies during Pandemic.

"Prima facie, we are also of the opinion that the Central government should respond on the following -

1. Report on the existence or otherwise and requirement of setting up of a coordinating body that would consider allocation of the above resources in a consultative manner (with the involvement of concerned States and Union Territories).

2. Considering declaration of essential medicines and medical equipment including the above articles as essential commodities in relation to COVID.

3. In respect of coordination of logistical support for inter-State and Intra-State transportation and distribution of the above resources".

The Court has appointed Senior Advocate Harish Salve as an amicus curiae to assist the Court in the matter.

The Court will consider the matter tomorrow.


High Courts of Allahabad, Gujarat, Delhi, Bombay, Madhya Pradesh, Calcutta, Sikkim, Jharkhand, Patna, Madras have taken cognizance of issues related to COVID-19.

In an urgent hearing held yesterday night, the Delhi High Court had emphasized that it was Centre's responsibility to ensure uninterrupted oxygen supply for medical emergency.

The Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court had yesterday, in yet another emergent hearing, had interfered with an order passed by the Union Health Ministry to cut down the oxygen supply to Maharashtra. The High Court ordered the restoration of earlier oxygen allocation, notwithstanding the Union Ministry's order.

Meanwhile, several senior lawyers have criticized the intervention made by the Supreme Court while High Courts are already seized of the issues. The Supreme Court Bar Association has filed an intervention application in the case urging that High Courts should be allowed to deal with the COVID19 issues at the local level as they are best suited to do so.

'Unjustified' : Senior Lawyers Criticize Supreme Court's Move To Transfer COVID Matters From High Courts To Itself

Case Details

Title : In Re : Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services During Pandemic

Coram : CJI SA Bobde, Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat

Citation : LL 2021 SC 228

Click here to read/download the order





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