The Supreme Court on Tuesday termed the massive surge in COVID-19 cases a ‘national crisis’ and said it cannot remain a mute spectator.
However, the top court added that its suo motu proceeding on devising national policy for COVID-19 management is not meant to supplant high court hearings.
A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud said the high courts are in a better position to monitor the pandemic situation within their territorial boundaries and the apex court was playing a complementary role and its intervention must be understood in the correct perspective as there are some matters which transcend the regional boundaries.
There is a need for top court's intervention on certain national issues as there might be matters related to coordination between states, it said.
The bench on Tuesday also took note of the submissions of lawyers including senior advocate Vikas Singh on differential pricing of COVID-19 vaccines and asked the Centre to apprise it of the rationale and basis behind such pricing. On the government's decision to vaccinate all citizens above 18 years, the court sought replies from states by Thursday as to how they intend to cope with the surge in vaccine demand and the infrastructure required for that.
The bench also asked the Centre to apprise the top court of the modalities on the distribution of oxygen as well as the vaccines to states and the monitoring mechanism. In the hearing, conducted via video conferencing, the top court also appointed senior counsel Jaideep Gupta and Meenakshi Arora as amicus curiae to assist it in the COVID-19 management case as Harish Salve had sought recusal following some controversial remarks by some lawyers.
Last Thursday, the bench took note of the pandemic situation due to a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases as also in mortality and said it expected the Centre to come out with a national plan to deal with the distribution of essential services and supplies, including oxygen and drugs.
(With inputs from PTI)
(Edited by: By Aditi Gautam)
First Published: IST