Cannot leave citizens of Karnataka in lurch says SC, refuses to interfere with HC order on oxygen

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New Delhi, May 7

The Supreme Court Friday said it will not leave Karnataka citizens in lurch as it refused to interfere with the Karnataka High Court order asking the Centre to increase the daily oxygen allocation for the state from 965 MT to 1200 MT for treating COVID-19 patients.

A bench of justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah said the high court order of May 5 is a well calibrated, deliberated and judicious exercise of power”.

It refused to accept the Centre’s contention that if every high court starts passing orders for allocating oxygen, it would make the supply network of the country “unworkable”.

The bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre, that it has read the sequence of events and it can say that it is “well calibrated, deliberated and judicious exercise of power after taking into account the number of COVID-19 positive cases. We will not interfere with it”.

It said the order does not preclude the Centre from considering the representation of the state government and work out a mutual resolution mechanism of supplying 1200 MT of liquid medical oxygen (LMO).

Mehta said every state needs oxygen but his concern is that if all the high courts start directing LMO allocation of the said amount then it will be a big problem.

The bench said it was looking at the wider issue and “we will not keep citizens of Karnataka in lurch”.

It said the high court had not passed the order without considering the facts and circumstances and it is based on the projection of COVID-19 cases made by the state government itself of minimum 1165 MT of LMO.

“The High Court has furnished adequate reasons for passing the ad-interim order having regard to the fact that projection of demand made by the state was a minimum of 1165 MT of LMO. The direction of the High Court is only ad-interim and it does not preclude a mutual resolution mechanism between the Centre and the state,” it said.

It added that the High Court has considered the death of people in Chamarajanagar and Kalburgi among other places due to shortage of oxygen and added, “Judges are also human beings and they are also seeing the suffering faced by the people. The High Courts will not simply shut their eyes”.

The Centre in its appeal filed on Thursday had said that the High Court has passed the order based on purported shortage of oxygen in the city of Bangalore and it will have a cascading effect and result in total collapse of the system of the supply network of LMO.

The high court had noted that the required quantity of LMO was not allotted to the state and directed the Centre to increase the allocation to 1200 MT of oxygen.

It had said that the Centre has not offered any explanation as to why buffer stock of LMO was not created despite the directions of the top court. PTI

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