SC stays Delhi HC's contempt proceedings against Centre, says 'putting officers in jail won't bring oxygen'
New Delhi: The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, stayed the Delhi High Court's order of initiation of contempt proceedings against the Central government officers, for their alleged failure in monitoring oxygen procurement, and supply to states, including Delhi. The court asked the Union of India to apprise it by 10.30 am on Thursday, as to how it will make the plan and make available 700 MT oxygen to Delhi.The observation came after the top court agreed to consider the Centre's plea over Delhi HC's contempt notice in which it directed the officials to be present in court over lack of oxygen supply to the national capital.Justice Chandrachud observed that putting officers in jail or 'hauling officers for contempt won't bring oxygen'. "Please tell us what are the steps taken to solve this?" he asked. Justice Shah observed no one can dispute that some people have died due to oxygen shortage and that 'it's a national emergency'.The top court also questioned the Centre how much oxygen it has allocated to Delhi over the past three days."We are also in Delhi. We are helpless and have been on phone. We can imagine what citizens are going through," said Justice Chandrachud. The apex court said that COVID-19 is an all-India pandemic and the government will have to find ways to ensure oxygen supply. We have to inch towards the supply of 700 MT oxygen daily for Delhi - the SC said.Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union of India, said it is unfortunate that the Delhi High Court had initiated a contempt proceeding when the Centre, its officers are doing their best in the matter.The Union of India approached Supreme Court against Delhi High Court's order asking officials monitoring oxygen procurement and supply to states, including Delhi, to be present during today’s hearing. In an order passed on April 30, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to rectify the oxygen deficit situation in Delhi by midnight of May 3. The court had directed the Centre to fulfil the Delhi government's requirement of 700 MT of oxygen per day and not just 490 MT.The High Court had taken note of the SC order and issued a show-cause notice to the central government."We, therefore, direct the central government to show cause why contempt is not initiated for not only non-compliance of our order of May as also of the order of the Supreme Court dated April 30. To answer the said notice, we direct the presence of Piyush Goyal and Sumita Dawra (senior Central government officers) tomorrow," the Delhi HC had said in its order."You can put your head in the sand like an ostrich, we will not," the court had said.