SC says it can’t be mute spectator in national crisis, doesn’t intend to supplant HC cases on COVID-19

On April 22 the Bench took note of the COVID-19 situation said it expected the Centre to come out with a “national plan” to deal with distribution of essential services and supplies

Terming the massive resurgence of COVID-19 cases a “national crisis”, the Supreme Court on April 27 said it cannot remain a mute spectator and made clear that its suo motu proceeding on devising national policy for COVID-19 management is not meant to supplant high court cases.

A Bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said high courts are in a better position to monitor the pandemic situation within their territorial boundaries.

There is a need for top court’s intervention on certain national issues as there might be matters related to coordination between States, it said.

“We are playing complementary role. If high courts have any difficulty in dealing with issues due to territorial limitations, we will help,” said the Bench, also comprising Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat.

Last Thursday, the Bench took note of the pandemic situation due to sudden surge in COVID-19 cases as also mortality and said it expected the Centre to come out with a “national plan” to deal with distribution of essential services and supplies, including oxygen and drugs.

Observing that oxygen to patients infected with the virus is said to be an “essential part” of treatment, the top court had said it seemed that a certain amount of “panic” has been generated due to which people have approached several high courts seeking relief.

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