The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed contempt proceedings initiated by the Delhi High Court against Centre's officials for violation of court orders on oxygen supply to Delhi amid the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Delhi High Court had issued a show cause notice to Centre for not supplying 490 MT oxygen to Delhi as per its order or 700 MT as per the Supreme Court's order. It had also sought personal appearance of Centre's officials.
In an urgent hearing on Centre's appeal against the high court's order, a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah said a meeting should be held between officials of the Centre and Delhi government by this evening to discuss various aspects of augmenting oxygen supply to the national capital.
This is an all-India pandemic situation and we will have to find ways to ensure oxygen supply to the national capital as "we are answerable to people of Delhi", it said.
"We are also in Delhi. We are helpless and have been on phone. We can imagine what citizens are going through," Justice Chandrachud said, adding that his office is hearing cries from people including lawyers seeking help.
The court said putting officers in jail will not bring oxygen to Delhi and questioned the Centre about the supply it has made to the national capital since May 3. It said it cannot review its order of April 30 and the Centre will have to supply 700 MT of oxygen daily to Delhi. It asked the Union government to place before it a plan by Thursday morning as to how it will revamp the supply to 700 MT.
The court also clarified that the stay on contempt proceedings will not restrain the high court from monitoring COVID-19 management related issues.
The court suggested that a committee of experts and doctors, including those from private sector, can be constituted to ascertain the situation in Delhi and take into account the COVID-19 situation which had been prevailing in Mumbai.
The national capital is facing oxygen shortage because of a steep rise in COVID-19 cases, with many patients losing their lives as hospitals run out of oxygen. Delhi reported 20,960 cases and 311 deaths in the preceding 24 hours as of Wednesday. The positivity rate stood at 26.37 per cent, while active cases were at 91,859.
(With inputs from PTI)