Health state topic, says HC as state flags oxygen scarcity

Saurabh Malik
Today News Online Service
Chandigarh, May 4

The BJP-led Haryana Government today pleaded before the Punjab and Haryana High Court that patients were gasping for breath as some of its proposals on augmenting oxygen supply were pending with the Centre, compelling the Bench to issue a reminder that health was a State subject. Read the Constitution, the Bench suggested.

Read constitution

Health is a state subject and we are all governed by the Constitution… Open the book… We cannot add anything to the Constitution. High Court Bench

The Bench asserted that lives were being lost and there was complete chaos after the State counsel submitted there was shortage of tankers. PSA generators could not be procured by the State as the entire control was with the Centre. The Government of India (GoI) allowed and approved the purchases. Even the installation was done by them. The State also pleaded for additional oxygen supply from the Panipat plant, adding that their demand would be met if it was allowed to get it from there. Both the States and the UT also submitted that their pleas for the supply of additional ventilators, too, were pending with the GoI.

Situation serious in state: Amicus curiae

  • HC says states can consider home delivery of oxygen cylinders, preferably by municipal authorities, to reduce pressure on the health workers, administration, govt and pvt hospitals.
  • Amicus Curiae Rupinder Khosla says serious situation has arisen in Haryana as its oxygen quota has been reduced by 20 MT from Panipat plant.
  • Additional Solicitor-General Satya Pal Jain says oxygen supply from Panipat plant to Haryana for meeting its requirement and to Punjab from nearby plant are being “seriously examined” by authorities at the Centre.

Taking a note of the submissions, the Bench of Justice Rajan Gupta and Justice Karamjit Singh asserted: “Health is a State subject and we are all governed by the Constitution… Open the book… We cannot add anything to the Constitution.” The Bench added these issues fell in the domain of the executive. “Whenever there is a crisis in the country, it is managed by the executive. We are not saying that the issues are not subject to judicial reviews. When things go beyond particular control, we have to step in. You could have voiced your concern with the GoI,” the Bench told Haryana Additional Advocate-General Ankur Mittal.

Mittal, in turn, submitted the GoI was doing its best, but pleaded for judicial intervention. “Let someone from the GoI be called upon… Some kind of arrangement could be made,” he submitted.

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Gupta asserted that all the three States were non-serious and even the phones were not being answered. “We will not tolerate disobedience. We will order such action that you will see. How can High Court directions be not complied with?” Justice Gupta added, referring to the directions issued on the previous date of hearing.

Rapping Punjab for not translating its words into action on the issue of unused ventilators, Justice Gupta asserted: “You only issue instructions. You are proceeding in a very casual manner. People move on your instructions or our directions? You issue instructions and that is all. For implementation, we have to step in. We will ask the head of the Police Department concerned to proceed and seize them and allocate to so and so and you can see what happens. Anyone who does not comply, we will have his powers withdrawn. You see our orders. We have done it before also”.

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