New Delhi [India], May 4 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued a show-cause notice to the Centre asking why contempt action should not be initiated against it for failing to provide 700 Metric Tonne (MT) oxygen to Delhi on a daily basis.
A Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli issues a show cause notice to the Centre and asked Central Government Officer to be present before it on the next date of hearing, and said, "You can put your head in the sand like an ostrich, we will not."
The Court asked the Central government why contempt action should not be initiated against it for non-compliance of its May 1 order and the Supreme Court's order.
The Supreme Court had directed the Union Of India to ensure, in terms of the assurance of the Solicitor General, that the deficit in the supply of oxygen to the Government of NCT of Delhi should be rectified on or before the midnight of May 3.
The Court's sharp reaction came when it noted that the Centre is not complying relating to oxygen supply to Delhi.
"Contempt may be the last thing but it is there. Enough is enough," HC said and added, "there is no way that you won't supply 700 MT right away. We won't hear anything except compliance."
The Court also remarked that the Central government is going to "quibble about these little things and let people die."
The HC said, "We fail to understand what good a compliance affidavit would be when as a matter of fact 700 MT oxygen is not delivered ...even earlier quantity of 490 MT oxygen is not delivered for a single day."
The Court also recorded that Additional solicitor general (ASG) Chetan Sharma submitted to the court that Supreme Court has not directed to supply 700 MT oxygen to Delhi.
The HC said that it disagrees with ASG's submission and said, "A plain reading shows that the SC has directed the Centre to supply by making good the deficit."
"It pains us that the aspect of supply of oxygen should be viewed in the way is done by Centre," the HC said and noted that the "grim reality" of every day is that hospitals have to reduce the number of beds.
The hearing which went for hours will also continue tomorrow. Earlier in the day, the Court said the "whole country is crying for oxygen".
Amicus Curiae Rajshekhar Rao suggested to the Court that some unutilised tankers can be diverted from Maharashtra to Delhi.
The HC told ASG Sharma that if there is a shortfall in consumption in Maharashtra, it can be diverted to Delhi. The ASG said that the suggestion is well taken but informed the HC that Karnataka has seen a spike.
The Court asked the Centre about how many suppliers they have in the empowered group, and added that its concern is that if the supply of oxygen is being done in the most efficient way that it has to be done.
It said that suppliers being the major stakeholders should be involved in the allocation plan. It also asked the Centre to get help from the experts of IIT and IIM.
"Whatever fleet you have, use it at the maximum," the Court said.
Delhi government's counsel Rahul Mehra informed the court that the Centre has to deliver 590 MT of Oxygen to the national capital. To which, ASG Chetan Sharma asked him not to get into rhetoric.
In reply, the High Court said, "This isn't rhetoric. Sorry, Mr Sharma. You may be blind, we're not. How can you be insensitive? It's an emotional matter. Lives are at stake."
During the hearing, Amicus Rajshekhar Rao said that people of the city have to be told that they can't keep cylinders in houses and we have to appeal that they must not hoard cylinders.
The HC suggested creating a bank saying that people will willingly surrender cylinders.
Meanwhile, the High Court also told the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) counsel Anurag Ahluwalia that there is complete lack of information like using concentrators, using oxygen cylinder and other aspects therefore ICMR should step in to raise awareness. (ANI)