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Centre is answerable to the people of Delhi: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday reminded the central government that it has a “special responsibility” towards Delhi and is also answerable to the people of the national capital.

“Delhi represents the nation and there is hardly anyone ethnically Delhiite…You have a special responsibility as the Centre”, Justice DY Chandrachud of a three-judge bench said as quoted by Livelaw.

The Apex Court is hearing suo moto case over the shortage of medical oxygen in Delhi.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta claimed there is an oxygen shortage in Delhi because of the inadequate lifting of oxygen supplies.

But, the bench stated that as against 700 Metric Tonne (MT) demand made by the Delhi Government, the Centre had allocated 490 MT of oxygen.

It should be also noted that as many as 500 lives were lost in merely five days and immediate steps must be taken to ameliorate the situation, the Bench, also comprising of Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, stated.

The SG told the Bench that Delhi is a non-industrial state and in the absence of any production, it does not have cryogenic tankers for the transportation of liquid Oxygen.

“Centre is providing more tankers. Some philanthropic industries are being involved to get tankers and oxygen on a war footing,” Mehta submitted.

However, Justice Chandrachud said, “If there is a 200 MT deficit then you should give that straight away to Delhi. The Centre has an important responsibility as far as citizens of Delhi is concerned. You have said surplus is there in the steel sector, then use that and supply to Delhi.”

The court also asked the Centre if a mechanism can be developed to show real-time updates regarding the allocation of oxygen.

“Tell us how much oxygen will be made available to critical states,” the Bench asked.

The court also asked the Delhi Government to not indulge in “political bickering” and cooperate with the Central Government during this humanitarian crisis.

“Politics is at the time of elections. There has to a sense of cooperation. A spirit of dialogue. Saving lives is the priority,” Justice Chandrachud said.

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