As India is battered by a massive surge in COVID-19 and the oxygen supply shortage induced by it, the Supreme Court has told the Centre to rectify the deficit in Delhi's oxygen supply by Monday (May 3) midnight, reported ANI. The direction came as hospitals across the national capital send SOSs regarding their depleting stock of medical oxygen.
The top court also directed the Centre to prepare, in a collaboration with state governments, a buffer stock of oxygen for emergency purposes.
"Emergency stocks shall be created within next four days and is to be replenished on a day to day basis," the SC said in its order passed on suo moto case initiated by it on the issue of oxygen supply shortage.
Due to the issue of oxygen supply shortage, 12 patients died at a Delhi hospital on Saturday, while 25 died last week.
The SC also told the Centre to formulate a policy, within two weeks, on the admissions to hospitals that will be followed by the state governments, the news agency reported. Until such a policy is formulated, no patient shall be denied hospitalisation or essential drugs in any state or union territory (UT), over lack of residential or identity proof, the court noted.
It also warned the states and UTs that any clampdown on social media or harassment caused to individuals seeking/delivering help on any platform will attract a coercive exercise of jurisdiction by the SC.
Last week, the Uttar Pradesh government filed an FIR against a man, who sought an oxygen cylinder for his grandfather, as per several media reports. On the Centre's request, Twitter also took down several tweets on India's COVID crisis.
As virus cases are continuing to surge across India, the SC urged the Centre and states to consider imposing a ban on mass gatherings and super spreader events.
They may also consider imposing a lockdown in public's interest, the SC said.
"Having said that, we are cognizant of the socio-economic impact of a lockdown, specifically, on the marginalised communities," the court said. "Thus, in case the measure of a lockdown is imposed, arrangements must be made beforehand to cater to the needs of these communities," the SC said in its order.
During the nationwide lockdown last year, thousands of migrant workers were stranded in host cities and many travelled home thousands of kilometres on foot, with many dying on the way.
Meanwhile, as India is hit by a second coronavirus wave, it's logging record numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths daily. On Saturday, the country recorded 392,488 new COVID-19 cases and 3,689 deaths, pushing the tally to more than 19.5 million, along with 215,542 deaths.