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‘There should be no clampdown on information, people can voice grievances on social media’: Supreme Court on Covid crisis

Raising questions regarding steps taken by the Centre to manage the Covid-19 crisis, the Bench suggested that a display mechanism must be put in place for real time updates on oxygen supply from Centre to the states.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: April 30, 2021 1:43:35 pm
Covid-19 patients at an 'oxygen langer' in a gurudwara in New Delhi on Friday. (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

The Supreme Court on Friday, during the suo moto hearing in which it had taken cognizance on issues related to oxygen supply, drug supply, and vaccine policy in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, said there should not be any clampdown on information.

“We will treat it as contempt of court if such grievances are considered for action. Let a strong message go to all the states and DGP of states that clampdown of info is contrary to basic precepts,” Justice DY Chandrachud said. He added, “We want to make it very clear that if citizens communicate their grievance on social media and the internet, it cannot be said it’s wrong information.”

The Bench headed by Justice Chandrachud also asked the Centre as to why there are two different prices for the same vaccine. “Why do you not follow the pattern of the national immunisation program? Also, will the walk-in facility for vaccination continue after May 1?” the Bench asked.

Raising questions regarding steps taken by the Centre to manage the Covid-19 crisis, the Bench suggested that a display mechanism must be put in place for real time updates on oxygen supply from Centre to the states. “Also, how are Centre and state governments ensuring vaccine registration of illiterate people?” the apex court asked.

Covid-19 patients being given oxygen assistance at a gurudwara in New Delhi on Friday. (Express Photo: Tashi Tobgyal)

The Supreme Court said the situation in the country is grim as even doctors and healthcare workers are not getting beds in hospitals. “Hostels, temples, churches and other places should be opened and converted into Covid care centres. Also, the healthcare sector has come to a breaking point and retired doctors or officials should be re-employed,” the Bench added.

The apex court on April 22 took suo motu cognizance of the “alarming situation” in connection with various health emergencies including oxygen shortage, during the Covid-19 pandemic, and issued notice to the Centre seeking a response on kinds of immediate and effective action it can take to handle such situation.

The Court, during the previous hearing, asked the Centre to present and apprise it as to whether a national plan can be prepared to handle this worrisome situation. It made these remarks, after noting and taking into the record at least six different state High Courts, including the Delhi High Court, have been hearing the matter on the same issues.

(With inputs from PTI)

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