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INTENSITY OF COVID CASES IN INDIA :- Judicial Intervention

Currently India is witnessing and fighting second wave of deadly Covid-19 pandemic and for last few weeks India is reeling under its pressure and the situation is getting from bad to worse with each passing day. The traumatic scenes from India have shocked the world, as the Country struggles with soaring cases of Covid. Most of the states have already imposed lockdown whereas, others have imposed night curfew with some restrictions to combat the pandemic. Metro cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai are the cities where the medical infrastructure is in high alert.

The Central and State Governments in aid with administrative bodies and local authorities are working very hard to control the situation across nation but despite their best efforts, the condition has become unstoppable. Henceforth, in view of the vast increase of covid cases and mortality rate in India, the High Courts of different states as well as the Apex Court had intervened and consequently taken suo-moto (on its own) cognizance of the same and conducting urgent hearings on day to day basis. Gist of various judicial intervention on the subject are highlighted below:

  1. Supreme Court takes suo moto Cognizance of COVID-19 Situation

Hearing the suo-moto case on the Covid-19 crisis in India, the Supreme Court said “while High Courts were in a better position to monitor situations in individual states, the Apex Court will not sit quietly during the crisis. Our role will be to coordinate efforts between states”.

During the earlier proceedings in the case, the SC bench led by then Chief Justice had asked the Centre to submit a national Covid plan detailing plans for the supply of essential drugs, manner of vaccination and lockdown. Consequently, the Centre has submitted a national wide plan. The SC bench also said the matter will be heard on priority basis as it is very urgent.

2. Delhi High Court on COVID-19 Crisis

“We’re calling it a wave, it is a Tsunami”

The bench of Hon’ble Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli, Delhi High Court, asked the Centre Government regarding the preparedness to deal with the expected COVID-19 second wave peak in mid-May, terming the massive rise in cases as a “Tsunami”, and warned in very strongly words that it will “hang” any person who tries to obstruct oxygen supplies to hospitals. The High Court told the Delhi Government to inform the Centre about such officials of the local administration so that it could take action against them.

“Oxygen crisis in Delhi”

The High Court was hearing submissions of the Counsels for Maharaja Agrasen Hospital, Jaipur Golden Hospital, Batra Hospital and Saroj Super Speciality Hospital over shortage of oxygen for treating serious Covid patients. It also asked the Centre when the 480 Metric Ton (MT) quota of oxygen ‘per day allocated’ for Delhi would see the light of the day.

The query came after the Delhi Government stated that it was getting only 380 MT of oxygen per day over the past few days and it received only around 300 MT on Friday. Delhi High Court told the Centre Govt. that Delhi has not been getting the amount of oxygen allocated to it by the Centre and lives are being lost in the capital.  During the hearing, the Court also questioned the Delhi Government officers as to what endeavor they have made to secure tankers to get the supply of oxygen allocated to it by the Centre. The Court also said that it hopes that the Central Government would look into the logistics problem being faced in transportation of oxygen from different plants to Delhi.

“Forget Common Man, even if I were to ask for a bed, it would not be available Right Now

The Delhi High Court expressed its anguish over the acute shortage of hospital beds for treating critical COVID-19 patients in the capital city. “Forget Common man on the street, even if I were to ask for a bed, it would not be available right now” Justice Vipin Sanghi remarked looking at the shortage of beds at covid hospitals in Delhi.

“Meeting between Government, Hospitals and suppliers”

The Delhi High Court directed immediate meeting of the 3 major stakeholders in respect of oxygen shortage issue. It called the meetings of Hospitals of national capital, the Delhi Government and the Suppliers of Oxygen, and asked them to get together and conduct a meeting on a priority basis to discuss modalities and issues in oxygen supply to hospitals across Delhi.

“Government to take over oxygen refilling unit with immediate effect”

Delhi High Court asked the Delhi Government to take over an Oxygen refilling plant with immediate effect and also served contempt notices to five other oxygen refillers. The Court also said that if the Delhi government is unable to address the situation then it will ask officers of the Central Government to take over.

“Set your house in order. Enough is enough. If you are not able to manage then tell us, we will ask the Centre to send its officers. We will ask them to take over,” the Court said.

The Court expressed its displeasure over oxygen refillers as well as who were not present at the court proceedings. While expressing its displeasure towards the Delhi Government for not issuing proper instructions to oxygen refillers, the Court directed “we ask you to take action against the refillers and issue a contempt notice because they did not appear even after they were called. This cylinder business is a mess. You have to look into it and put your house in order. If they are belligerent, then they will see our belligerence. Keep them in custody if they are playing with people’s life like this

“Set up more COVID-19 testing Centers, Sample Collection Infrastructure”

The Delhi High Court also recommended the Delhi Government to set up more testing Centers in view of the rise in COVID-19 cases in the national capital which is recording over 24,000 fresh infections for the last few days. A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jasmeet Singh also asked the Delhi government to put in place necessary infrastructure to streamline the sample collection process.

                                                                                                                                                
“Take action against black marketing of oxygen, medicines”

Delhi High Court also directed the Delhi Government to take action against black marketing of oxygen and medicines, noting that it has failed to curb these practices so far. In last few days, few persons were detained and taken into custody.

3. HOW can private individuals buy and distribute Remdesivir: Bombay High Court to Centre

The Bombay High Court questioned the Centre as to how private individuals were procuring COVID drugs such as Remdesivir directly from pharmaceuticals companies. This comes after an MP distributed 10,000 Remdesivir Injections last week. Court held that “we want the drugs to reach everyone…and shouldn’t be in the hands of a few”. If we find further such instances where pharmaceutical companies are providing Remdesivir directly to private individuals, we may pass an injunction against them. Delhi Govt. has also directed sale of Remdesivir injection directly to Covid Hospitals and not to private persons.

4. Election Commission is responsible for Covid-19 surge, must face murder charges: Madras HC

Coming down heavily on the Election Commission for “not stopping political parties” from violating Covid protocols during their campaign rallies for Assembly polls in five states/UT over the last month, the Madras High Court said that murder charges should probably be imposed on the panel for being “the only institution responsible for the situation that we are in today”. The scathing observations came four days after the Calcutta High Court had censured the EC for not doing enough to ensure that political parties were following appropriate Covid protocols amid the surging second wave. “You have been singularly lacking any kind of exercise of authority. You have not taken measures against political parties holding rallies despite every order of this court saying ‘maintain Covid protocol, maintain Covid protocol’,” the Madras High Court observed.

Conclusion

The Central Government, State Governments, local administration, hospitals, medicines/oxygen suppliers and other stakeholders are really trying very hard and working overnight to come out of this Crisis. But there are few persons who are using this crisis as an opportunity to mint money. But, we as a common person, will not allow this. We all alongwith Govt. machineries should be vigilant to see that no one makes exorbitant profit at the cost of life. We should all join together to face this unprecedented crisis and we will WIN.

For any clarifications/suggestions or any queries please write drop a comment or write to us at info@sigmalegal.in

AMIT KUMAR

(LEGAL DEPARTMENT)

TEAM SIGMA LEGAL

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