People wait to refill medical oxygen cylinders for Covid patients at a private refill centre in New Delhi on Friday.
People wait to refill medical oxygen cylinders for Covid patients at a private refill centre in New Delhi on Friday.
—AFP

New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Friday turned down the Centre's plea against a Karnataka HC order of May 5 on supply of oxygen to Karnataka, saying it cannot leave citizens in lurch by entertaining such applications. It refused to interfere in the HC’s order asking the Centre to raise the daily oxygen allocation to the state from 965 to 1200 MT for treating Covid patients.

The bench also put its foot down stating 700 MT medical oxygen have to be supplied to Delhi daily "till further orders" to tide over the Covid-19 crisis.

A bench comprising Justices Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and MR Shah asked the Centre to arrange the supply even before its order is uploaded on the SC website in the afternoon.

It said the HC’s order is "well calibrated, deliberated and judicious exercise of power." It refused to accept the Centre’s contention if every hc starts passing orders for allocating oxygen, it would make the supply network of the country ‘unworkable’ and go haywire.

The bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre, the order does not preclude the Centre from considering the representation of the state govt and work out a mutual resolution mechanism of supplying 1200 MT of liquid medical oxygen (LMO).

The Apex Court disposed of the Centre’s plea, nothing that order of the Karnataka HC does not preclude a mutual resolution by the two governments, since the proceedings are still pending.

It said: “The order of the HC is based on the need to maintain at least a minimum requirement as projected by the state govt until a decision on the representation is taken and the HC is apprised. Hence, without enquiring into the wider issues sought to be raised at this stage (and keeping them open) there is no reason to entertain the SLP.”

In case of Delhi, Dr Justice Chandrachud said: “We want 700 MT to be supplied to Delhi and we mean business.It has to be supplied, we don’t want to be coercive.”

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