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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Don’t want to be coercive but we mean business: top court tells SG

“We want 700 MT to be supplied to Delhi on a daily basis. Please don’t force us to be in a situation where we have to be firm,” a Bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who appeared for the Centre.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
May 8, 2021 3:50:13 am
Covid-19 patients at the Shehnai Banquet isolation centre in Delhi on Friday. (Photo: Amit Mehra)

Stating that it didn’t want to be “coercive” but that it “means business”, the Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to ensure that 700 Metric Tonnes of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) is supplied to Delhi daily to meet the needs of Covid-19 patients.

“We want 700 MT to be supplied to Delhi on a daily basis. Please don’t force us to be in a situation where we have to be firm,” a Bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who appeared for the Centre.

“…And we mean business. It has to be supplied and we don’t want to be coercive,” said Justice Chandrachud, adding that while the court will clarify this in its detailed order, “you proceed and arrange the oxygen”.

Justice Shah also told the government that “we had made it very clear that we wanted 700 MT. We said that (during the hearing on the Centre’s plea against the contempt notice issued by the Delhi High Court) yesterday”.

The bench said this after advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for Delhi government, said the national capital had received 86 MT of oxygen till 9 am on Friday and that 16 MT was in transit.

Responding, Justice Chandrachud reiterated that the 700 MT daily supply should be maintained, saying “yesterday we noticed a lot of caveats on tankers. We are not going into this…”.

On May 5, the SC had stayed the contempt notice issued by the Delhi High Court to officers of the Centre on the issue of oxygen supply for the national capital. However, it asked the Centre to ensure that 700 MT demanded be supplied to it.

On Thursday, the Centre informed the court that it had supplied 730 MT to NCT the day before. However, it also added that to continue to meet the figure, stocks of other states will have to be diverted. There was also a shortage of containers to transport the LMO, the Centre had pleaded.

The Centre has relied on a report of an expert committee comprising V K Paul, head of the national Covid-19 taskforce, and AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, among others, to contend that Delhi’s daily demand of 700 MT is unrealistic and the problem of shortage has to do with “systemic failure”.

The Centre also urged the court to order an audit of the oxygen requirements of various states. Though the court agreed to consider this, the final order on the matter is not out yet.

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