Oxygen crisis: SC steps in, seeks national plan from govt

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked to see a ‘national plan’ on oxygen supply, essential drugs and method of vaccination and issued notice to the Union government on a day India recorded the world’s biggest surge in Covid cases – 3.14 lakh cases and over 2,000 deaths in a day.

Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, who said ‘we are facing national emergency,’ also said, ‘We want to see the national plan on this issue’.

The apex court has taken a suo moto cognisance on supply of oxygen and essential drugs issue with the three-judge bench of Supreme Court, headed by CJI Bobde, asking Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to submit or inform it by providing a national plan, after taking into the record the fact that at least six different High Courts have been hearing the matter.

CJI said that India is facing a national emergency and said the court will hear the matter tomorrow.

‘We want to know. In regard to the four issues of supply of oxygen, supply of essential drugs, method and manner of vaccination and we want to keep the power to declare lockout with the states,’ said the Chief Justice.

‘We wish to take suo motu cognisance of certain issues we find six High Courts – Delhi, Bombay, Sikkim Madhya Pradesh, Calcutta and Allahabad. Now they are exercising their jurisdiction in best interest. But what is happening is some kind of confusion and diversion of resources,’ he added.

Underlining that it is the government’s responsibility to provide oxygen to medical facilities, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday came down strongly on the Centre, saying it seemed that ‘human lives are not that important.. for the state’.

‘Beg, borrow or steal. It is a national emergency,’ said the Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli.

‘How is the government so oblivious to the reality on ground? You can’t have people die because there is no oxygen,’ the court said while hearing an appeal by the Max Group, which had flagged oxygen crisis in two of its hospitals earlier in the afternoon. Slamming the Centre for still allowing industrial use of oxygen despite its Tuesday’s order, the court said, ‘This is really ridiculous. You are concerned with the industries while people die… That means human lives doesn’t matter for the government,’ the judges said.