The Supreme Court on Friday told the Delhi government to stop “political bickering” and start talking to the Centre on providing relief to COVID-19 patients in the national capital.
The top court termed the surge in cases during the second wave of COVID-19 a “humanitarian crisis” and told the Aam Aadmi Party government that it has to cooperate with the Centre to save lives.
The Delhi government assured the top court that its suggestion will be followed in letter and spirit and it would cooperate in every possible way with the Centre.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud, said: “Politics is for elections but at this time of humanitarian crisis each life is important and needs to be saved. There should not be any political bickering. You have to start talking to the Centre and sort out this problem.”
The bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, said that it is not adversarial litigation and all parties have to find out a way to deal with rising problems.
“You have to convey this message to the highest level. You also please ask your chief secretary to talk to the Centre to deal with your problems,” the bench told senior advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for Delhi.
He assured the bench the government will make every possible effort to tide over the problem.
“We are giving solemn assurance that we will talk to the Centre and cooperate with them so that lives can be saved. We will follow the suggestions in letter and spirit,” Mehra said.
During the nearly three-hour hearing conducted virtually, the bench asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre to explain the shortage in supply of oxygen to Delhi.
Mehta said that without trying to vitiate the atmosphere by indulging in any blame game, he will say that Delhi has not been able to lift the oxygen allocated to it due to several logistical issues.
The bench said that he meant to say that the situation in Delhi is due to government inability to lift what oxygen has been given to it to which Mehta said, “yes”.
The top court told Mehta, “You forget about the inability to lift oxygen by the Delhi government, the centre has to make special efforts to provide them oxygen. The Centre has a Constitutional obligation towards Delhi, which is also the face of the country”.
Justice Chandrachud said, “You said that 490 MT of Oxygen is supplied to them as against their demand of 700 MT. Why can't you provide the deficit 200 MT. You cannot sit tight and do nothing? My conscience is shaken. We cannot have 500 deaths on our hands. You have to do something urgently and supply a deficit 200 MT oxygen to Delhi."
Mehra said that it was incorrect to say that the Delhi government has not demanded 700 MT on time, and since the government is in process of enhancing the number of beds with oxygen support more gas is needed.
The top court said that both Centre and Delhi government has to work together to sort out the problems to save the lives at this time of crisis.
The top court was hearing a suo motu case on ensuring essential supplies and services during the pandemic. It posted the matter for further hearing on May 10.