Delhi govt’s request for Army help: HC seeks Centre’s stand

THE DELHI High Court Monday directed the Centre to apprise it about its decision on a request sent by Deputy CM Manish Sisodia to Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to lend services of the Armed forces to set up, operationalise and run Covid health facilities with about 10,000 oxygen and 1,000 ICU beds.

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma told the court that the minister is looking into the matter, and sought time to inform it about further progress. The division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said there is no doubt that a “good case” is made out for the Army’s help: “It is a national calamity, major one.”

On May 1, the court had suggested that the Delhi government seek assistance from the Army to set up field hospitals.

The Delhi government, in the letter written Sunday to the Defence Minister, also asked for cryogenic tankers to transport liquid medical oxygen. It further sought the ministry’s help in procuring medical oxygen cylinders and to provide medical and para-medical teams to supplement Delhi’s medical manpower.

The bench also said the Centre cannot tell it that the Supreme Court has passed an order with regard to the issues and the apex court should only deal with it. “We all are duty bound,” said the court, adding that it considers its duty to ensure compliance of the SC’s directions.

Court raps Batra hospital

It also pulled up Batra Hospital, where 12 patients died last week on account of shortage of oxygen, for detaining a tanker of Goyal Gases on Saturday and forcing the driver to deliver more than what was allocated to it. The supplier told the court it was forced to deliver 4.8 MTs instead of 2.5 MTs.

“This will not do. Whatever the problem, we are trying to fix that… but that does not give you a right to forcibly detain tankers… Otherwise, we will have to tell you to discharge your patients and fend for yourself,” said the court, adding that such “anarchic conduct” would affect other hospitals in the chain.

The hospital submitted that there has been an erratic supply of medical oxygen and apologised to the court for the incident. “Never again will this ever happen,” said Dr Sudhanshu Bankata, hospital executive director.

Directing hospitals and nursing homes to adhere to the allocation orders issued by the Delhi government on medical oxygen supply, the court asked them to not expect suppliers to provide them excess of what has been allocated.

The Delhi government told the court that 6 plants supplying oxygen to it are about 1,500 km away, and total quantity from them is 255 MTs.

“For this 255 MTs to come every day, we need to find a workable mechanism,” senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing Delhi, told the court.

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