Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India

New Delhi: A Mumbai based COVID-19 hospital approached the Supreme Court on Tuesday alleging that an oxygen supplier--Indo Gas--has denied the supply of medical oxygen to the hospital forcing patients to be transferred to other hospitals.

The plea was filed by Crystal Hospital Ltd, now renamed as NIHS Re-Life Hospital Ltd, Mumbai, which said that the hospital was willing to pay five times the approved price, but Indo Gas "denied supply" and demanded a minimum of 10 times the official rate.

The petition said the NIHS Re-Life Hospital is a COVID hospital with 90 beds of which 13 have hi-tech ICU facilities.

"The hospitals which are requisitioned by the BMC for COVID patients can retain 20 per cent of the beds for non-COVID patients," it said and added that the petitioner hospital, "committed to social cause and the welfare of the commonwealth", wanted to make available the entire facility for COVID treatment.

The petition said that since April 12, oxygen was denied by Indo Gas, and the petitioner hospital had to shift the patients to other hospitals.

The plea further said that at a time when there is great shortage of beds and ICU facilities for the treatment of COVID patients, the petitioner hospital, "one well equipped with all modern, hybrid facilities for COVID treatment, is forced to remain handicapped, practically closed." The plea sought directions to the Maharashtra government, Union of India and other instrumentalities of the state, and in particular, the Municipal Corporation of Bombay, the District Magistrate, Bombay Suburban District, the police authorities to take appropriate measures on a war-footing to ensure that sufficient quantity of oxygen is made available to the petitioner hospital as soon as possible, "so that the lives of the COVID patients could be saved." It further sought directions to the governments and authorities to take appropriate action against Indo Gas Agency, including criminal proceedings, for violation of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, "for selling oxygen cylinders in the black market and refusing to supply to the petitioner hospital".

The plea said the problem faced by the petitioner hospital is not one peculiar to it but faced by many designated hospitals like it. It said that an artificial shortage has been created by "anti-social and inhuman elements", with the "sole purpose of unduly enriching at the cost of the lives of fellow human beings".

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