Supreme Court refuses to stay Karnataka HC order on more Oxygen to State

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The Supreme Court on Friday turned down the Central government’s plea to stay the Karnataka high court order directing it to immediately increase the supply of medical oxygen to the state from 962 metric tonnes (MT) per day to 1,200 MT per day in view of the spurt in the number of active Covid-19 cases.

“We can’t keep people of Karnataka in the lurch,” said a bench of justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah.

The bench added that the high court order was a “careful, calibrated and judicious exercise of power” and required no intervention of the top court.

On May 5, while hearing a public interest litigation, the high court had noted that the projected requirement of oxygen in Karnataka was 1,471 MT per day as on April 30, 2021, whereas the Centre had agreed to enhance it from 862 MT to only 962 MT per day. It also recorded a statement of Karnataka’s additional chief secretary that the requirement of oxygen in the state was likely to go up to 1,792 MT by May 5, 2021.

The top court cautioned the Centre and asserted that it has to give 700 MT of oxygen to Delhi every day till this order is reviewed or modified.
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The high court then directed the Karnataka government to submit a representation to the Union government while ordering that till this representation was considered, the Centre will supply 1200 MT of oxygen per day to the state.

Challenging this order, the Centre said that the high court failed to consider the rationale behind allocation of certain amounts of oxygen to each state.

“…purely on the basis of purported shortage in the city of Bangalore, (high court) passed directions which, if fulfilled, will have a cascading effect and result in the total collapse of the system in its fight against the ongoing second wave of Covid-19 Coronavirus,” stated the petition.

The plea stated that the high court order “would ultimately lead to mismanagement of resources and create a further chaotic environment in an already overburdened system”.

The Centre further sought intervention of the Supreme Court, saying such matters required a comprehensive national approach.

“Issues which transcend the boundaries of the particular state, especially issues wherein one or more states would be competing for the limited resources during the time of the pandemic, or issues which require any special treatment to a particular state at the expense of other states would necessarily have to be examined by the Supreme Court as it essentially requires a comprehensive national approach,” it said

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