This article is written by – Abhishree Paradkar, Symbiosis Law School, Pune
On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court noted that it is not clear whetherCentre along with the Delhi High Court had formed any buffer stock of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) in Delhi to be prepared in order to deal with predicted third wave of Covid-19.
OBSERVATIONS MADE BY THE COURT
Regarding Buffer Stock of Liquid Medical Oxygen
The Delhi High Court bench that comprised Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh pointed that the Court had been flagging the oxygen issue since the order had been passed by the Apex Court. The Order referred to her was passed by the Supreme Court of 30th April and it directed the Central Government to create buffer stocks of the LMO by collaborating with the State government.
The court also observed that even if the present situation is managed, one cannot forget the situation of lack of LMO that occurred between March and May. The buffer stock that the order asks the Centre to prepare is like insurance. It is an action left up to the Centre, however, the court also advised the Centre to not defer from it.
This matter was brought to the Bench through a PIL which pertained to the Covid-19 crisis. During the hearing of the PIL, the Amicus Curiae and Senior Advocate Raj Shekhar Rao contended that although the government has claimed to have created a certain capacity for having a buffer stock, it is not clear whether any buffer stock actually exists.
Advocate Rahul Mehra who appeared on behalf of GNCTD, informed the High Court Bench that about 420 MT LMO has been kept with various suppliers at different places outside Delhi. These resources shall be drawn as per the requirement and the Centre plans to shift the entire stock to Delhi by 31st August.
Furthermore, it also posed questions to Mr. Singh, the advocate appearing for the Centre regarding the free distribution of vaccines and why the same had not been made a part of CSR.
As for CSR, Justice Sanghi informed the central government that activities that come under the regular course of business are prohibited under CSR. The court also questioned the Centre as to the fact that since hospitals provide vaccination free of cost in such extraordinary conditions why aren’t they considered as a part of the exemption? Therefore, ideally even the hospitals and pharmaceuticals that provide free vaccines should be able to avail the benefits of CSR.Mr. Singh replied stating that it involves a major risk of abuse if in the normal course of business, people are permitted to do CSR.
Regarding Resources for Black Fungus
The court was also told by the Centre that the total number of black fungus cases have reduced from 28,475 as of 27th June to 18,833 as of 30th July. There is extra stock of resources present. However, presently, there are no takers, therefore, there is no allocation by the Centre. The States can procure drugs from the manufactures that have been approved.
Regarding Campaigns for Foster Care and Sponsorship
Lastly, the bench also discussed the issue involving children who had been orphaned during Covid-19. As per previous records, 1300 children had lost either one or both their parents. But records show that the actual figure is around 5,337. The number has increased by almost five-fold, however, only 9 queries and 2 applications have been made to foster care.
Hence, the court ordered the GNCTD to advertise its sponsorship and foster care schemes as soon as possible. The court asked the GNCTD on the next date, to indicate the steps that it would take conducting the following campaigns on sponsorship and foster care.