ILNS: The Supreme Court on Thursday took suo motu cognizance of the critical situation arising due to shortage in supply of oxygen to hospitals in the Capital and also of the shortage of life-saving drugs, deciding to hear the matter tomorrow. The first bench will also look into the power to declare lockdowns.
A Bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat will take the matter up tomorrow morning, on the last day of Chief Justice Bobde, before he retires.
Justice Bobde has said, “We will draft the notice and issue it to the Centre. Then, we will issue notice to the High Courts. Eventually, we will bring some issues here.”
Also within the purview of the court will be the method and manner of vaccination, as well as the power to declare lockdown. “We want the power to lockdown with the state government not by a judicial order,” the bench said.
This was in reference to the Allahabad High Court’s ‘order,’ declaring lockdown in Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Prayagraj and Gorakhpur, which was then stayed by the Supreme Court.
The Court also appointed Senior Advocate Harish Salve as Amicus Curiae in this matter. During initial discussions, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Chief Justice that Delhi and some other courts have taken suo motu cognisance, but there is a person, Mr Malhotra, who made an application regarding the suo motu case.
Justice Bhat said, “You can present the national plan. It is not to supersede any order as of now. You can submit that plan to the High Courts.”
The bench said, “It seems that a certain amount of panic
has been generated and people have invoked the
jurisdiction of several High Courts in the country seeking
various reliefs such as Delhi, Bombay, Sikkim, MP,
Calcutta, Allahabad and Gujarat. The High Courts have
passed certain orders which may have the effect of
accelerating and prioritizing the services to a certain
set of people and slowing down the availability of these
resources to certain other groups whether the groups are
local, regional or otherwise.”
The Apex Court also wanted the Centre to respond on:
- Report on the existence or otherwise and requirement of setting up of a coordinating body that would consider allocation of the above resources in a consultative manner (with the involvement of concerned States and Union 3 Territories).
- Considering declaration of essential medicines and medical equipment including the above articles as essential commodities in relation to COVID.
- In respect of coordination of logistical support for inter-State and Intra-State transportation and distribution of the above resources.