Karnataka HC order on oxygen supply judicious exercise of power: Supreme Court junks Centre’s plea

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The Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere with the Karnataka High Court order, asking the Centre to increase the daily liquid medical oxygen (LMO) allocation for the state from 965 MT to 1200 MT 

The Supreme Court on Friday said the Karnataka High Court order for the supply of 1,200 MT oxygen is reasonable and the High Court cannot remain silent when people are dying in the state. The top court declined to entertain Centre’s plea challenging the High Court order.

At the outset, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta: “It is a well-calibrated, well-considered judicial exercise by the High Court. We will not leave the citizens of Karnataka in the lurch.”

Mehta submitted that his objection was in connection with the High Court interfering in the Centre’s oxygen allocation plan amid the ongoing crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The top court emphasized that it wants to avoid “grave injustice” to the people. The Centre claimed that if the High Courts started giving directions for oxygen supply, it would become unworkable.

The top court said it is conscious of the difficulty faced by Centre, but the court would also have to think about what will happen if the requirement of oxygen supply for Covid-19 patients in a state is not met.

The Centre’s counsel argued that it will face great difficulty if all High Courts begin passing order on the supply of medical oxygen to state. Mehta submitted that this leaves room for every High Court to start examining and allocating oxygen. “Please order that this be not treated as a precedent”, Mehta urged before the top court.

Justice Chandrachud responded that the court is looking at a wider issue. The Centre’s counsel remarked during the hearing: “Let all High Courts distribute the oxygen to states.”

The top court noted that its order does not preclude a resolution of the issue between the state and the Centre.

The Centre on Thursday had moved the Supreme Court against the Karnataka High Court order to enhance daily liquid medical oxygen (LMO) allocation for the state for treatment of Covid-19 patients from the existing 965 MT to 1,200 MT.

For several days, the top court has been hearing disputes between the Centre and various states over the supply of oxygen and other essential resources in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also Read: Karnataka records 49,058 new Covid cases, 328 deaths in last 24-hours

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