The Delhi High Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the Delhi government and said if it is unable to address issues relating to COVID-19 crisis, it will ask officers of the central government to take over the matter. The court also said that it seems like the city government is just distributing “lollipops”.
The court was hearing a batch of petitions over shortage of oxygen supply in the national capital. The court asked the city government to take over an oxygen refilling plant with immediate effect and also served contempt notices to five re-fillers.
The bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli, examining the matters related to oxygen crises in state hospitals said, “if you (Delhi Government) are not going to be able to manage then tells us, we will ask central government officers to take over (the re-filling units).”
“Our confidence is shaken, you (Delhi Government) put your house on order. It seems all you’re doing is the distribution of lollipops. There is a major problem on your end,” said the court.
The court expressed its displeasure at oxygen re-fillers who were not present during the proceedings while also expressing its displeasure towards Delhi government for not issuing proper instructions to the oxygen re-fillers.
“We are surprised that the order passed by the city government was not taken into consideration by cylinders re-fillers,” the court said,
It said the Delhi government has to pull up its socks with respect to the distribution of not only liquid oxygen but also oxygen cylinders and no account is being kept on how they are further supplying oxygen to hospitals and individuals. This is leading to an artificial black market, the court noted.
The bench also asked Delhi government to file an affidavit mentioning the status of stocks of liquid and gaseous oxygen with re-fillers by 10 am on Wednesday.
The court talked with the representatives of oxygen cylinder suppliers, who appeared in the court proceedings, and asked several questions.
The court said it transpires that substantial quantity is supplied to gas re-fillers but there is no mechanism to monitor further supply from them.
The court warned an oxygen cylinder supplier that he could be taken into custody over his response, observing that the re-filler was lying and directed the Delhi government to take control over the Seth unit of oxygen suppliers along with its employees.
The court also said that if re-fillers do not provide the data to the Delhi government portal, strict action would be taken against them by the city government.
The hearing will continue on Wednesday.
The national capital has been seeing the highest death toll due to COVID-19 for the past few days in the wake of surge in cases and reports of shortage of oxygen in hospitals.