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Covid-19: Object of suo motu case only to monitor State’s preparedness: Madras HC

Chennai | Updated on May 10, 2021

Regarding the management of the pandemic and related issues including treatment infrastructure including oxygen supply, the Madras High Court on Monday made it clear that it does not consider itself an expert, and the object of the suo motu case was only to monitor the preparedness of the State.

“It once again made it clear that it is not the business of this Court to suggest measures, which should be left for experts to do. The object of the exercise is to monitor the extent of preparedness of the State executive and to assist in the measures being taken, if only by bringing several stakeholders to a common platform,” says an order issued by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and J Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy.

In view of the comprehensive directions, including the rational and equitable distribution of oxygen, vaccines and drugs, it is for the National Task Force to come out with plans and allocations. However, till such time that the National Task Force announces the allocations in consultation with local officials, it is the Union which is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the continuous supply of oxygen, vaccines and drugs to the States and Union Territories, the Order said.

‘Plan B needed’

In the light of the present allocation of medical oxygen and the rising need of the State, it is necessary to think of a plan ‘B’. Oxygen generators have apparently been set up by the Defence Research and Development Organisation at short notice at some places. This avenue must be explored, as also indicated in the previous order. If, as the experts suggest, a third wave may be in the offing, it is necessary to be over-prepared and not require the resources being put to use rather than being unprepared and rue for not having garnered additional resources. The object of the exercise is to prepare for the worst and hope that the worst does not hit us.

‘Take up urgent measures’

The Additional Solicitor-General has assured to take up the case of both the State and the Union Territory with the Centre, at least till such time that the National Task Force set up by the Supreme Court order gets down to the nitty-gritties of allocation and the like. It is necessary that immediate urgent measures be taken, both to augment the supply of oxygen in the State and of vaccines and drugs to both the State and the Union Territory.

The matters will next appear on May 12 at 2.15 pm, the order said.

Published on May 10, 2021

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