New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Tuesday took suo motu cognisance of the issue of 100 rooms being requisitioned for judges and judicial officers of the high court and their families in the Ashoka Hotel.
The bench comprising Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli called the order and the consequent news coverage of it as “very, very misleading”, and said that it never asked for 100 rooms to be requisitioned in a five-star hotel, especially for judges.
The court called it “patently discriminatory”, saying that the government “cannot create a facility exclusive for any class”.
“It’s unthinkable…we as an institution would take preference when people are dying on the road?” the bench asked, asserting, “Withdraw the order or we’ll quash it.”
The court also issued a notice to the Delhi government on this suo motu case and will hear the matter Thursday.
The order in question was issued Sunday by the Chanakyapuri Sub-Divisional Magistrate office, invoking the powers under the Disaster Management Act 2005 and the Delhi Epidemic Diseases COVID19 Regulations 2020. Among other things, this order claimed that “a request has been received from Delhi High Court for setting up of the CHC facility for the Hon’ble Justices and other judicial officers of Delhi High Court and their families”.
The court, however, Tuesday asserted that it had not made any such request. It said that it had merely communicated the need for a facility to the authorities, considering the fact that judges from the subordinate judiciary have had to necessarily hold physical courts.
“Many have gotten infected, their families have gotten infected and 2 judicial officers have died. Our concern was as their well-wishers, as it falls upon us to take care of them. All we wanted was that if they need hospital admission, a facility should be available, we never asked to make any such facility with 100 beds,” Justice Sanghi said.
In response, senior advocate Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government in various petitions and applications filed on Covid-19 management in Delhi, blamed the media for playing a “mischievous game”.
However, the judges asserted that the “media is not wrong, because the order is wrong”.
Court seeks details of deaths due to oxygen shortage
The court also continued its day-to-day hearing on petitions and applications filed on various aspects of Covid management in Delhi, including oxygen supply and transport, and RT-PCR testing.
In its order, the high court has now asked the Delhi government to file a report detailing the deaths that have taken place due to shortage of oxygen in the national capital. The court asked the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government to get the information from all hospitals and nursing homes and submit the data, complete with all patient details, including name, time of death and reason of death. This affidavit needs to be filed within four days.
Additionally, the court asserted that the Delhi government “needs to pull up its socks to address aspects of distribution of not only liquid oxygen to the larger hospitals but also the oxygen in cylinders which is used by various smaller hospitals and nursing homes, apart from individuals”.
The court took note of non-supply of oxygen cylinders by one supplier Seth Air Products, and noted that the submissions made by its representative were also “completely and blatantly false”. It, therefore, asked the Delhi government to take over this unit and let it be run by one of its officers.
(Edited by Neha Mahajan)