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Delhi HC: Centre to reply why contempt action shouldn't be taken over non-supply of Oxygen

The Delhi High Court has issued a show cause notice to the Centre for not supplying Oxygen to the national capital as per the Supreme Court order. Centre will have to explain why contempt action shouldn't be taken for non-compliance with the court order. While Centre assured that Oxygen shortage in Delhi will be resolved in a few hours, the High Court noted that Centre didn't even supply 700 (Metric Tonnes) MT Oxygen to Delhi by May 3 as per the top court order. Refusing to take no for an answer, the court held that Centre has to supply Oxygen to Delhi as per the top court order which projected Oxygen demand at 976 MT in the national capital, and not as per its own calculation which pegged the demand at less than 700 MT. The 2-judge bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli objected to calling of deaths as a 'rhetoric' by the Centre, observing that it is an emotional issue when the entire nation is crying for Oxygen and lives are at stake. Centre's officials have been asked to appear and explain the on-ground situation to the court tomorrow. The bench suggested decentralising of delivery and handing over management of Oxygen cylinders to IITs and IIMs to curb shortage and prevailing confusion. Referring to a notice issued by another bench of the court on compensation sought by family of a person losing his life to COVID, the court observed that there was no doubt that those dying of lack of treatment need to be compensated. Centre's reply to the court will also feature scientific data on Oxygen availability based on inputs from specialised groups working in the domain. Centre informed the court that 433 MT Oxygen reached Delhi at midnight, another 307 MT came at 8:15 AM, while 138 cryogenic tankers were being imported and 50 were being manufactured. Centre agreed to the Amicus Curiae's suggestion to divert unutilised Oxygen tankers from Maharashtra to Delhi even as many hospitals made clarion calls for Oxygen to save critical patients. While hospitals urged the court to direct ICMR to publish list of medicines to be taken so that people don't rely on WhatsApp forwards, Amicus Curiae Rajshekhar Rao sought wide publication of information through social media and other means to educate home isolation patients on when do they need hospitalization during a massive surge of cases. Rao proposed creation of a cylinder bank to curb chaos in refilling of individual cylinders, as he pointed out logistical issues like hospitals and individuals being assigned Oxygen suppliers in another end of the city. Citing an incident where a tragedy was averted when someone was trying to get a Hydrogen cylinder filled with Oxygen, he stressed upon the need to educate people on refilling of Oxygen cylinders and use of medicines. The High Court has also asked the Delhi Police to file a status report and act against black marketing and hoarding of Oxygen and essential medicines as lawyers claimed that many political leaders and workers were distributing medicines from their party offices. Many lawyers had questioned how political leaders and party workers were getting a constant supply of essential drugs and Oxygen cylinders during such an acute shortage.