Provide Oxygen or Face Contempt Proceedings, Delhi HC Warns Centre

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Delhi High Court

NEW DELHI – The Delhi High Court on Tuesday told the Centre that it intends to see the compliance of its order in connection with the oxygen supply to the national capital. The Centre’s failure to implement the order also irked the court and brought the government close to a contempt case.

A division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli asked the government to explain why a contempt case should not be initiated against it. It directed the Centre to show cause why no action should be taken against it for failure to comply with the Supreme Court and High Court orders to supply required oxygen to the Delhi government.

Making strong remarks, the bench asked the Centre: “Are you living in an ivory tower? Where are you living?” The bench further added that because the Delhi government didn’t raise the demand, people should be allowed to die. “Is this what it’s come to? You want to quibble while people are losing lives?”

On shortage of oxygen in Delhi, the High Court told the Centre, “you can put your head in sand like ostrich, we will not.”

The top court’s April 30 order shows it directed the Centre to provide 700 MT of oxygen and not just 490 MT, said the High Court. It further emphasised there is already a top court order and now, it will also say the Centre will have to supply 700 MT oxygen daily to Delhi right away by whatever means.

The court noted that it sees grim reality everyday of people, who are not able to secure oxygen or ICU beds in hospitals, which have reduced beds due to shortage of oxygen.

The high court also sought appearance of two Central government officers to be present before it on Wednesday to respond to the notice.

It also rejected the Centre’s submission that Delhi was not entitled to 700 metric tonnes of medical oxygen against the backdrop of existing medical infrastructure.

Earlier, during the hearing, the High Court had said that the Centre must ensure that the proper supply of oxygen reaches Delhi, according to the instructions issued by the top court. “You may be blind, but we are not. We cannot shut our eyes. This is so insensitive and unfortunate,” it had noted.

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