Centre owes a ‘special responsibility’ to Delhi, says Supreme Court

Special Bench cautions against political bickering

The Supreme Court on Friday said the Centre owes a “special responsibility” to Delhi, which represents the “microcosm of citizens of the entire nation”.

Haunted by echoes and images of people crying for oxygen and medical help in the national capital, the court said the hearings before it should make a change and help citizens gain access to medical care and essentials in the fight against the devastating second wave of the pandemic.

The Special Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the Delhi government should not engage in any “political bickering”. The remarks came when Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for the Centre submitted that Delhi may not be lifting its supply of oxygen.

“Delhi represents the nation and there is hardly any one ethnically Delhite. Forget about someone not lifting oxygen. You have to push through since you have to save lives Mr. Solicitor. You have a special responsibility as the Centre,” said Justice Chandrachud.

The court at one point noted that the Centre had allocated only 490 MT of oxygen to Delhi compared with the 700 MT required.

The court said that as many as 500 lives had been lost in merely five days and immediate steps must be taken to ameliorate the situation.

“Politics is at the time of elections. There has to be a sense of cooperation. A spirit of dialogue. Saving lives is the priority,” Justice Chandrachud noted.

“Centre is providing more tankers. Some philanthropic industries are being involved to get tankers and oxygen on war footing… If there is a 200 MT deficit, then you should give that straight away to Delhi. Centre has an important responsibility as far as citizens of Delhi is concerned. You have said surplus is there in steel sector, then use that and supply to Delhi,” the Bench noted.

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