The Karnataka High Court has warned the Center that it will issue orders directing the Center to increase the oxygen supply quota as well as the Remdesivir supply to Karnataka. During the hearing, the bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Judge Aravind Kumar took a stern note that the allowance for both counts was quite low compared to the requisition made by the government. from the State to the Center.
The court heard the petitions a day earlier than expected, given the grave situation regarding the growing number of positive cases in Karnataka state and the state’s oxygen shortage.
In its order of April 29, the court ordered the state to submit a claim to the relevant central government department setting out the projected daily oxygen requirements for at least 7 additional days and ordered the Center to make an immediate decision to this subject.
At the hearing on May 4, the Center informed the court that the oxygen allowance had been slightly increased from 802 MT to 865 MT. the court considered this against its order stating that the need was around 1471 and the requisition made by the state where it was declared that the need was likely to rise to 1792 MT by May 5. In its letter, the state mentioned that 17% of the total active cases will require oxygen beds and 3% will require intensive care beds.
According to LiveLaw, the bench asked the Center’s board, “What is your explanation (from the central government), the state requirement is around 1,700 MT per day and you only raised it to 865?” Don’t you know that people have died as it is due to the unavailability of oxygen? ”
The court added: “The central government will either have to say that the state government is formulating a false oxygen requirement … if it’s not false, you need to increase the quota, one of the two things that you will have to do in tomorrow. “
The court had also given the central government council time until the afternoon to seek instructions on whether an ad hoc increase in the allowance could be made. But he informed the court that he could not make a statement about it because the decision could only be made after the consultation process with the relevant ministries. To this, according to LiveLaw, the court remarked orally: “We don’t want any explanation that the offer has to be provided. If your process is faulty, isn’t it up to you to fix it? ”
The court highlighted the Chamarajanagar incident where, according to some reports, 24 Covid patients died due to lack of oxygen and the Kalaburgi district also recorded around 9 of these deaths.
Lawyers who appeared for the petitioners submitted to the court, that in relation to the number of pending cases in other states, and their attribution, the attribution made to Karnataka was discriminatory in the sense that some states which have not as many cases have been allocated the quota which exceeds the quota allocated to Karnataka. The court therefore ordered them to record all of this data.
The court gave the central government time to reconsider the allowance and said it was considering passing an order to increase the allowance on an ad hoc basis.
“We are warning the central government that we will have to consider prayer to instruct the central government to immediately increase the quota on ad hoc base, especially since it is underlined on the other side of the bar that in ten hospitals in the city of Bengaluru, the oxygen supply is almost finished. It is pointed out across the bar that even the Kolar district does not have an oxygen supply. Therefore, we point out to the central government that the prayer to issue a directive for the increase of the quota on ad hoc the base will be examined tomorrow at 10:30 am, ”the court said.
During this time, the state government was tasked with:
Record existing guidelines / standard operating procedures for the allocation of oxygen to various districts / hospitals
· Clarify if there is a mechanism for a hospital short of oxygen to refuel immediately.
Clarify the mechanism available for districts like Chamarajanagar where there are no bottling factories and therefore filled oxygen cylinders should be brought from adjacent districts
Take a call if in districts where filled oxygen cylinders are to be physically secured from adjacent districts, a buffer or reserve quota can be maintained at district headquarters which can be used in an emergency
While the attorney general submitted to the court that the investigation report into the Chamarajanagar incident would be filed on May 5, the court was keen to hold an investigation led by a retired High Court judge, in particular because similar incidents were happening in other districts as well.
The court also took note of the attribution of Remdesivir to the state. While the State had mentioned that the need was 35,000 vials per day, the Center had allocated approximately 15,800 vials per day. Taking stern note of this, the court informed the Center that instructions in this regard will also be adopted by the court on May 5.
The court also asked lawyer Vikram Huilgol, who previously represented the state in these petitions, to assist the court as an amicus curiae in these petitions.
Order can be read here:
Courtesy: Sabrang India