Taking a Suo moto cognizance on the Covid crisis in the country, the Supreme Court of India has shot a volley of questions. It questioned the fact that why there is no national plan yet to fight the Covid crisis that is going out of the hands. Responding to the issues of lack of required Oxygen supply, medicines, beds to Covid patients, the Apex court raised the pertinent question of what exactly is happening in the country. It asked whether there has been a “communication gap” between the Centre and the States.
The Supreme Court said it can’t be a “Silent Spectator” in the hour of crisis. It said it did not intend to stop High Courts from hearing petitions in various states on the issues of shortage of oxygen supply, shortage of vaccine doses, Covid medicines, and beds.
“There are certain national issues to be dealt by the Supreme Court. At a time of national crisis, Supreme Court cannot be silent spectator,” the Supreme Court said.
“We are not preventing the High Courts from hearing. We are playing complementary role, if High Courts have any difficulty in dealing with issues due to territorial limitations, we will help,” said the three-judge bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, LN Rao and Ravindra S Bhat. This is after criticism from some senior lawyers over “hijacking” cases from the High Courts.
The Apex court said that six High Courts across the country were hearing related petitions but there was “confusion and diversion of resources”. The court asked for a “national plan” to deal with the crisis.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has directed the Union Government to provide information over the supply of oxygen, the projected need of states, the methodology to be adopted on the requirement of states, the enhancement of critical medical requirements including beds, steps to ensure availability of essential drugs including Remdesivir and Favipiravir. It asked the Centre to produce information on the projected vaccine requirement and vaccine prices as well. The top court has posted the next hearing of the case to the coming Friday.