“The Centre and state governments are doing their best,” ruled the Supreme Court as it stayed a Delhi High Court’s contempt notice against Central government officials for their alleged failure in monitoring oxygen procurement, and supply to States, including Delhi.
“Between the Centre and State putting officers in jail or hauling them up for contempt, the people of Delhi won’t get oxygen,” the Supreme Court said, hearing the Centre’s plea against the contempt charges.
The Union of India had approached Supreme Court against Delhi High Court’s order which on Tuesday had shown exasperation on why Delhi couldn’t be supplied with 700 MT (metric tonnes) of oxygen. “You can put your head in the sand like an ostrich, we will not,” the Delhi High Court had said.
The Centre told the Supreme Court that a formula had been adopted. “We devised a formula with experts and it is applicable for the entire country…Based on this, Delhi was allocated 480 metric tonnes,” it said.
However, since the Supreme Court believed 700 MT oxygen it is which Delhi needs, an observation on which Delhi High Court had pulled up the Centre on Tuesday, the Centre said: “We are in the process of going to 700 metric tonnes of oxygen…on May 4 we could reach 585 tonnes.”
Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Shah were the two-member bench hearing the Centre’s plea against Delhi High Court’s order
Observed Justice Shah: “The Centre is doing its best…otherwise what will happen? If you get oxygen from another state, that state will also suffer.”
“We direct that by 10.30 am tomorrow, the Centre shall place a comprehensive plan in the form of a chart, indicating the manner in which the direction for allocation of 700 metric tonnes shall be complied with,” the court said, adding that it was answerable to the citizens of Delhi. “We do not want contempt proceedings. We want action on the ground,” the court said.
The Centre told the Supreme Court that India has augmented its oxygen capacity from 5,000 metric tonnes to 9,000 tonnes for medical purpose.