New Delhi: “Centre and State may consider imposing a lockdown to curb the virus in the second wave in the interest of public welfare”, said the Supreme Court in its order in the suo moto case In Re Distribution of Essential Services and Supplies During Pandemic.
A Bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud, L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat, taking into account the continuing surge of infections in the second wave of the pandemic, directed the Central and State Governments to put on the record the efforts taken to curb the spread of virus and the measures that they are planning to take in the future.
In the Order reserved on 30th April, the Court further stated that it would “seriously urge the Central and State Governments to consider imposing a ban on mass gatherings and superspreader events”.
They also suggested to the Centre and State to consider imposing a lockdown to curb the virus in the second wave in the interest of public welfare.
”Having said that, we are cognizant of the socio-economic impact of a lockdown, specifically on the marginalized communities. Thus, in case the measure of a lockdown is imposed, arrangements must be made beforehand to cater to the needs of these communities”, notes the Order.
Supreme Court in it’s Order issued the following other directions;
(i) The UOI shall ensure, in terms of the assurance of the Solicitor General, that the deficit in the supply of oxygen to the GNCTD is rectified within 2 days from the date of the hearing, that is, on or before the midnight of 3 May 2021;
(ii) The Central Government shall, in collaboration with the States, prepare a buffer stock of oxygen for emergency purposes and decentralize the location of the emergency stocks. The emergency stocks shall be created within the next four days and is to be replenished on a day to day basis, in addition to the existing allocation of oxygen supply to the States;
(iii) The Central Government and State Governments shall notify all Chief Secretaries/Directors General of Police/Commissioners of Police that any clampdown on information on social media or harassment caused to individuals seeking/delivering help on any platform will attract a coercive exercise of jurisdiction by this Court. The Registrar (Judicial) is also directed to place a copy of this order before all District Magistrates in the country;
(iv) The Central Government shall, within two weeks, formulate a national policy on admissions to hospitals which shall be followed by all State Governments. Till the formulation of such a policy by the Central Government, no patient shall be denied hospitalization or essential drugs in any State/UT for lack of local residential proof of that State/UT or even in the absence of identity proof;
(v) The Central Government shall revisit its initiatives and protocols, including on the availability of oxygen, availability and pricing of vaccines, availabilityof essential drugs at affordable prices and respond on all the other issues highlighted in this order before the next date of the hearing, that is, 10 May 2021. Copies of all affidavits to be served upon the Amici in advance
The matter will be next considered on May 10.