On April 21, the Delhi High Court and Bombay High Court conducted emergency hearings amidst a shortage of oxygen and Remdesivir in the states. While the Delhi High Court asked the center to ‘beg, borrow or steal’ oxygen to provide for medical purposes, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court pulled up the state government for not complying with the previous orders to provide Remdesivir.
Beg, borrow or steal oxygen, tells Delhi High Court to center
During an urgent hearing on the plea filed by Max Hospital, the Delhi High Court came down on the union government heavily and questioned if human lives are not important. The divisional bench comprising of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Pelli said that the centre must “beg, borrow or steal oxygen to provide to the hospital. It is a national emergency.”
The Delhi High Court is hearing an urgent plea currently regarding the immediate need for oxygen at Max Hospitals – primarily, Shalimar Bagh and Patparganj, New Delhi, which have about 2-3 hrs of oxygen left to deal with the Covid-19 situation.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) April 21, 2021
In its plea, the Max Hospital had stated that they were on dangerously low levels of oxygen supply. Notably, the situation was quite similar in other hospitals in Delhi. While the hearing for Max Hospital was happening in the High Court, Rathi Hospital, located in Najafgarh, was running from post to pillar to arrange oxygen. There were 78 critical patients in the hospital. After hours of running around, they were able to procure oxygen with the help of the Delhi Police.
Delhi: Rathi Hospital in Nafajgarh receives oxygen cylinders.— ANI (@ANI) April 21, 2021
The hospital earlier ran out of supply of oxygen. pic.twitter.com/NqvmNUr1X9
We cannot shut our eyes, said the Court
The Court mentioned that the number of Covid-19 cases has been doubling every 10 days. It is the ground reality that there is a shortage of oxygen. “It is not that it is artificial or being wrongly projected. It is there. We cannot shut our eyes to it,” the Court added. The Court said that the state could not say that it can only provide that much oxygen and no more. “We will have to enforce the fundamental rights of people and direct beg, borrow and steal and do whatever you have to do, but you have to do. We cannot see people dying because people are dying,” said the Court.
Justice Sanghi : We were told this earlier, sorry to interrupt you. Every 10 days we have double the numbers. Fact of the matter is that, on ground today, there is shortage of oxygen. We cannot shut our eyes to it. That’s the only thing.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) April 21, 2021
Curtail state-run steel plants and petroleum industries
The centre had earlier exempted some industries from the ban on industrial use of oxygen. The Bench asked the government why they were not curtailing the state-run steel plants and petroleum industries to whatever is absolutely critical. “We can understand that you cannot shut down petroleum production completely in the country because it is a critical thing by itself, but you can reduce it. We are sure that if you were to divert their oxygen for medical use, you would be able to meet the requirement,” the Court said.
If it means to shut down the industries, for the time being, let it be – Delhi High Court
The Court said if procuring oxygen from the industries means that those industries have to be shut down for the time being, let them be. “we cannot afford to lose lives. That is the bottom line,” said the Court.
Delhi’s lawyer was unable to connect to Deputy CM
During the hearing, Advocate Mehra was asked to take instructions from the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi. However, he was unable to connect to him. The Solicitor General said on record that he was ready to make a statement that the union minister had talked to deputy CM minutes before.
SG : If the lawyer says he is not able to connect with the Dy CM, it is unfortunate. I can make a statement that my senior minister was in touch with the Dy CM few minutes ago.#DelhiHighCourt #Oxygen #COVID19— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) April 21, 2021
Provide safe passage to oxygen tankers
There have been reports that the oxygen tankers were not getting passage on the Delhi borders where farmers are protesting. The Court has asked the center to provide safe passage to the tankers. Earlier, when the oxygen suppliers had approached Delhi Police to provide support for passage, the Police had created a green corridor to ensure a smooth transition from other states.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the decisions related to closing down the industries are only possible at the higher levels. He asked for an adjournment for a day so that he could take instructions and reply to the Court accordingly. The Court will hear the matter today at 3 PM. While adjourning the session, the Court said, “We are hopeful that the emergent needs of various hospitals in Delhi will be met so that no casualties are suffered on account of discontinued supply of oxygen to seriously ill Covid patients and other patients who require oxygen support till we take up the matter and pass orders tomorrow.”
‘Ashamed to be part of nasty society’ Bombay High Court pulls up Maharashtra government
The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court was not pleased with the state authorities for non-compliance with its order passed on April 19 regarding the supply of 10,000 vials of Remdesivir injections to Nagpur district. MG Bhangde, appearing for the State, submitted two affidavits from Joint Commissioner (FDA) and the other by Additional Collector, Nagpur. The Court noted that the contents of the affidavits were contradictory.
The Bench comprising of Justice SB Shukre and SM Modak said that they seemed to have shirked away from the responsibility of providing relief to the Covid-19 patients. “This life-saving drugs not being made available is violating the fundamental rights of people. It is now clear that these authorities are shirking responsibilities,” the Court said.
The Court further said that if the state does not feel ashamed of itself, then the Court feels ashamed of being a part of this nasty society. “We cannot do anything for the unfortunate patients of Maharashtra. This is how we are shirking from our responsibilities. You are neglecting and ignoring our patients. We give you a solution, you do not follow it. You do not give us a solution. What absolute nonsense is going on here!” Justice Shukre said.
Bhangde, reading from the Joint Commissioner FDA’s affidavit, said that for private hospitals, the seven companies manufacturing the drug have their depot at Wada, and the companies decide how many vials to send to the state. The state has no role to play in it.
Justice Shukre showed displeasure on the statement and said, “If he (Commissioner) is not the procurement agency for the vaccine, then whose bloody business is it? You are saying that you are not in a position to comply with the order, then what is the solution according to you? You are saying there was stock, but not available for Nagpur. How come Thane gets more and Nagpur gets less is not explained.”
The Court asked to ensure Vidharbha receives 12,404 vials of Remdesivir by night and adjourned the hearing till 8 PM. At 8 PM, the Bench again assembled and took cognizance of the oxygen shortage and Remdesivir availability in the state. The Divisional Commissioner of Nagpur stated that the Remdesivir vials will be equitably distributed. The companies that will be providing the injection to Nagpur are Hetero Labs (3000), Cipla (1500), Sun Pharma (320), Mylan (500), Dr Reddy’s lab (1000) and Zydus (432).
Distribute drugs fairly to the entire nation, said the Court
The Court said, “We direct ASGI to obtain instructions from Ministry of Health regarding steps taken by them under the Drug Control Act and other relevant Acts to ensure fair and equal distribution of this drug not only to Maharashtra or Vidarbha region of Maharashtra but to the entire nation.”