Libertatem Magazine

Municipal Authorities May Consider Oxygen Home Delivery: Punjab & Haryana High Court

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Learned amicus curiae, Mr Khosla in the present petition pointed that the Panipat plant was overheated and not functioning at 100% capacity. The allocation of 70MT made from the Rourkela plant took about four days to reach Haryana. The judgment given by the Supreme Court was referred to wherein a direction had been given for the creation of ‘buffer emergency stock’ with the collaboration of State and the Centre to avoid further loss of life. He further pointed out that he received an e-mail from C.K. Birla Hospital situated in Sector 51, Gurugram stating therein that it has 17 critical patients in the hospital who are completely dependent on oxygen but they have a very limited supply left. According to him, there must be other hospitals facing the same difficulty.

Arguments before the Court

Mr Vikas Mohan Gupta, Additional Advocate General, Punjab expressed the difficulty regarding the procurement of oxygen. According to him, they had been allotted quota from a plant in Rourkela which is not easy to transport to Punjab. The vehicles, coming by road, took several days to reach the State. He vehemently prayed that the State be allotted oxygen from the plant(s) situated nearby.

The Learned amicus curiae informed that certain ventilators were lying unused in the Institutes of Medical Sciences, Mohali, Barnala and other places in Punjab. According to him, all such ventilators needed to be put in use immediately in the wake of a surge in the covid wave. Another apprehension expressed by the Amicus Curiae was that availability of beds in various Government and private hospitals were limited. As a result, some patients had to stay at home. They need oxygen support and have to purchase the same from the open market. However, availability is not easy.

Mr Anupam Gupta learned senior counsel highlighted the Order dated 29.4.2021 passed by the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, wherein certain directions had been given. It has been provided that a web portal created by every State/UT to ensure that ready information is available with the people as regards the availability of beds, oxygen, drugs, vaccine and vaccination centres including guidelines related to the use of Remdesivir and Tocilizumab.

Court’s Observation

The Court has observed that in individual States, the High Courts have been given liberty to examine the issues arising out of deficiency of oxygen, medicines, medical equipment etc. within their jurisdictions. It was observed that when proper oxygen supply was available to those patients on oxygen support at home, it would reduce the pressure on the Administration as well as on the Government and Private hospitals. The advisories have also been issued by various health departments to the patients to stay at home if the condition is mild to moderate. In such circumstances, even home delivery of oxygen cylinders could be considered by the State preferably by Municipal Authorities as Health personnel were already overburdened. Apart from providing aid to the inflicted public, it shall also prevent hoarding of oxygen cylinders.

Court’s Decision

Based on the serious issues raised by the counsel, the Court stated that it expects that the necessary measures are taken at the earliest to ensure that there is no further loss of life due to paucity of oxygen in the State. In case of crisis, the State was at liberty to draw from the ‘buffer stock’ of oxygen created under Orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 30.4.2021 in Suo Motu Writ Petition (Civil) No.3 of 2021.

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