Today News Online Service
Chandigarh, April 22
As the country witnessed the world’s highest single-day spike with more than 3.14 lakh new Covid-19 cases, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today set a 24-hour deadline for the Haryana Government to inform the Bench whether a coordinating body was available in each district for the people to approach in crisis.
Haryana also undertook to inform the Bench whether the designated toll-free helpline number (1075) was operational. As the case came up for resumed hearing, the Bench of Justice Rajan Gupta and Justice Karamjit Singh observed: “Though a state-level committee is already in existence in Haryana, a question has arisen whether nodal agency is available in every district for people to approach in case of any emergency.”
The Bench also took on record Haryana Additional Advocate-General Ankur Mittal’s submission that he would apprise the court of the constitution of such a committee. Before parting with the matter, the Bench also recorded in its order Punjab state counsel VM Gupta’ submission that proper arrangements were being made and the supply of oxygen had been increased to 136 MT. The submission came a day after Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the state was facing a shortage of medical oxygen for Covid-19 patients. He had also urged the Centre to ensure uninterrupted supply and at least a daily allocation of 120 MT to Punjab.
The High Court, on the previous date of hearing, had taken cognisance of the “grim” situation in the region following surge in Covid cases — including the non-availability of beds in the hospitals and “depleted” oxygen supply.
Senior advocate and amicus curiae Rupinder Khosla had contended that there was a complete chaos due to the situation arising out of the Covid-19 spread and the government guidelines were not being followed in the region. Beds were not available to those seeking admission to the hospitals and the supply of oxygen was “severely depleted”.
The case has its genesis in a petition filed against the State of Haryana and other respondents by Rishi. His counsel had told the Bench that the petitioner, a jail inmate, was tested positive for corona on December 27, 2020. As a result, he was taken to the quarantine centre in Sector 12, Panchkula.
Thereafter, the petitioner did not receive attention from the medical authority. With jail no bar for Covid infection, the Bench hearing his petition had called for details regarding the availability of masks for the inmates. The petitioner was put back in jail after he recovered, but the Bench made clear its intent to continue with the matter after holding that “a larger question has arisen during the course of the hearing”.
Taking cognisance of oxygen shortage
The submission came a day after the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the state was facing a shortage of medical oxygen for Covid-19 patients.