SC Asks Centre to Emulate BMC’s Success in Managing COVID-19

SC Asks Centre to Emulate BMC’s Success in Managing COVID-19

On Tuesday, Delhi High Court Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli issued a show-cause notice to the Central Government seeking an explanation as to why contempt action should not be taken against them with regard to the oxygen shortage in the nation’s capital. The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the contempt notice issued to the Centre, Live Law reports. 

A Supreme Court special bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud said that cooperation is the need of the hour and “putting officers in jail and hauling them up for contempt will not help.” Justice Chandrachud added that the decision to put the contempt notice on hold wasn’t meant to tie up the High Court’s hands from taking stock of the oxygen allocation in Delhi. 

The court then directed the Centre to put forth a comprehensive plan by Thursday morning showing its plan to supply 700 metric tons (MT) of oxygen to Delhi. The court also sought information on transportation provisions and other logistics to fulfil the oxygen requirement. 

“There is tremendous pressure on citizens to get cylinders and oxygen. If you can showcase the time of arrival, the amount of oxygen, please put it up upfront and publicise. So that citizens know,” the judge said. 

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Justice MR Shah who was part of the Supreme Court bench said, “Nobody can dispute that this is not a national pandemic, that people are not dying, that the central government is not doing anything.” 

“If you get oxygen from other state, they will also be needing it. It won’t be fair to them. What is your plan for distribution?” he questioned.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the Delhi Government and the Centre are coordinating to make this happen. He added that a pan-India solution was required to fix the crisis as leaving it to individual states or the Centre may not be feasible.

However, Justice Chandrachud said that the Central Government can’t make an assessment for the whole of India as the coronavirus is peaking at different times in a number of states. 

Justice Chandrachud went on to say that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was doing a decent job in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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“What are they doing, how are they managing...I understand that Maharashtra also produces oxygen, which Delhi can’t do. If you draw from experience and figure out how the holding corporations can be done in Delhi...Then we will have a module for Delhi in place based on the successful model in Bombay, which is a large metropolis,” he said.

Solicitor General Mehta agreed with Justice Chandrachud’s assessment and praised the “Mumbai Model,” adding that it was not political. “We requested Bombay to send us the model so that we could tell other states to emulate the same,” Mehta said. 

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