Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Supreme Court that if all the high courts start directing LMO allocation of the said amount then it will be a big problem. But the bench justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah said it was looking at the wider issue and “we will not keep citizens of Karnataka in the lurch”.
Describing it as well calibrated, deliberated and judicious exercise of power, the Supreme Court has refused to interfere with the Karnataka High Court order of May 5 asking the Centre to increase daily oxygen allocation for the state from 965MT to 1200MT for treating COVID-19 patients. The High Court had noted that the required quantity of LMO was not allotted to the state and directed the Centre to increase the allocation to 1200 MT of oxygen.
The bench refused to accept the Centre’s contention that if every high court starts passing orders for allocating oxygen, it would make the supply network of the country “unworkable”.
The court told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, that it has read the sequence of events and it can say that it is “well calibrated, deliberated and judicious exercise of power” after taking into account the number of COVID-19 positive cases. “We will not interfere with it.”
It said the order does not preclude the Centre from considering the representation of the state government and work out a mutual resolution mechanism of supplying 1200MT of liquid medical oxygen (LMO). The judiciary said the high court had not passed the order without considering the facts and circumstances and it is based on the projection of COVID-19 cases made by the state government itself of minimum 1165 MT of LMO.
“The High Court has furnished adequate reasons for passing the ad-interim order having regard to the fact that projection of demand made by the state was a minimum of 1165 MT of LMO. The direction of the High Court is only ad-interim and it does not preclude a mutual resolution mechanism between the Centre and the state,” it said. “The High Court has considered the death of the people in Chamarajanagar and Kalburgi among other places due to shortage of oxygen. Judges are also human beings and they are also seeing the suffering faced by the people. The High Court s will not simply shut their eyes.”
The Centre in its appeal, filed on Thursday, had said the High Court has passed the order based on purported shortage of oxygen in the city of Bangalore and it will have a cascading effect and result in total collapse of the system of the supply network of LMO.