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Oxygen shortage: Delhi HC rejects Centre claim that Delhi not entitled to 700 MT medical oxygen

The Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said it was not immediately interested in what was happening in other states and was concentrating on Delhi only.

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ILNS: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday rejected the Centre’s submission that Delhi was not entitled to 700 MT of medical oxygen, in the backdrop of the current medical infrastructure shortfall in the capital and in other parts of the country.

The bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli has been hearing many petitions on the shortage of life-saving drugs, oxygen and hospital beds in the capital and is trying to find a solution to try and save people.

The bench observed: “There’s a Supreme Court order. Now we also say the Centre will have to supply 700 MT oxygen daily to Delhi right away, by whatever means.” This leaves the Central government on slippery ground since it could pave the way for possible contempt proceedings.

While this observation may not be in the final order, the Supreme Court’s recent observation on the media reporting “observations” of judges will need to be taken seriously. That observation came in the Election Commission’s plea that media should not report High Court observations following the harsh words the Madras High Court had for the poll panel.

In this instant case, the bench added: “The Supreme Court’s April 30 order shows it directed the Centre to provide 700 MT of oxygen and not just 490 MT. We see grim reality everyday of people not able to secure oxygen or ICU beds in hospitals which have reduced beds due to gas shortage.”

Oxygen tankers from Maharashtra

Earlier today, Amicus Curiae Rajshekhar Rao said that with Maharashtra registering a dip in cases, oxygen tankers being sent to the state can be diverted to Delhi, which is in dire need. The suggestion was well received by the bench.

Amicus Rajshekhar Rao: “Just like ASG Chetan Sharma said, tankers are dynamic. This is something the Union could consider. As the Maharashtra situation is under control as far as oxygen is concerned, they could send their tankers to Delhi for some time to aid Delhi. This will allow Delhi to have better storage.”

On politicians distributing medicines, oxygen

The bench ordered Delhi Police to look into a complaint that political leaders have been hoarding essential drugs and even oxygen and distributing it to the public with no licence to do so.

It was alleged by Advocate Virag Gupta that in Maharashtra and other states, medicine and equipment were being distributed from political party houses, when there is no medicine available in hospitals.

The bench said it was not immediately interested in what was happening in other states and was concentrating on Delhi only.
At that, Gupta said: “My prayer is limited to Delhi only. Those who are admitting that they are doing it in bulk quantity, should be asked. And the police may be directed.”

Justice Sanghi said the bench was not inclined to order a CBI enquiry in this at the moment and the order was to submit required documents.

“We allow the petitioner to place the copy to the concerned officer, who shall examine the same.”

ICMR can do small videos to educate people on how to use concentrators: Delhi HC

The bench wondered if the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) can advice the public on how to read oxygen levels (SpO2), how to use oxygen concentrators and/or cylinders.

This advice will go a long way in helping the common man in being able to help himself and his/her family when hospital services and doctors aren’t the easiest services to come by, observed the bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli.

Justice Sanghi suggested to ICMR Counsel Anurag Ahluwalia, “On a mass scale, people are unaware of the symptoms and basic protocols to use concentrators, how to keep it, how to use oxygen cylinders, how to identify one. You should make small videos, pictures and circulate in WhatsApp groups and through other social media, so that people can know that these are authentic guidelines.”

The ICMR counsel replied: “Certainly, My Lord.”

Justice Sanghi: “People have oxygen concentrators, but some people do not know how to use it. They are in closed air-conditioned rooms and using the concentrator. Where will the fresh air come from? My young peon lost his wife this morning and she had mild symptoms, but could not check the SPO2 level… What are the basic tests people should know?”

“People after 6-7-8 days are getting affected and suddenly it shoots up. All medical associations, whoever is treating COVID, should come up with a plan. Your protocol needs to be properly published,” said the Judge.

Ahluwalia: “Perhaps this should come in your order my lord, so that I can take this to ICMR and the Central government.”

Read Also: Make available position of beds on real-time basis: Rajasthan HC to hospitals

Counsel for Batra Hospital said: “Nowadays, it is getting difficult to visit or consult a doctor. People are doing it over WhatsApp, so perhaps if a correct channel could publish the list of medicines and when to take them and based on that notification one could take that message and get the medicines. The problem is people are getting appointment after 2-4 days.”

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