Initiation of Contempt Proceedings

 

The Delhi High Court initiated contempt proceedings against State and Centre officials for failing to comply with the Supreme Court’s order regarding oxygen supply to Delhi.

The Bench, in order to understand why the Supreme Court’s order was not complied with, sought clarifications on the mechanism of calculating the need of each state. Justice Chandrachud rejected the Solicitor Generals presented formula that was based on the number of beds that require oxygen on a national level. This was on the grounds that the formula was based on assumptions which may not be accurate when considering individual states.

The Solicitor General presented a breakdown of the daily oxygen influx into Delhi. Justice Chandrachud followed up by suggesting that the Centre attempt to replicate the Mumbai model that the Mumbai Municipal Corporation adopted under similar circumstances. As a result of this model, a buffer stock of oxygen was maintained which the bench strongly urged the centre to begin moving towards themselves.

In the order dictated by Justice Chandrachud, he identified the dimensions to the problem that require immediate action from the centre.

  • First, a requirement to communicate the methodology of the current formula and to update it to include a basis besides available beds.
  • Second, a requirement to properly manage and optimize oxygen with an efficient supply chain and a buffer stock.
  • Third, a communication of actual availability that can be conducted through an audit.

The court stayed the contempt order of the Delhi High Court whilst clarifying that it shall not act as a restraint on the High Court in its efforts to monitor the situation.