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Suo Motu Covid-19 matter: SC allows Adv Harish Salve to withdraw as amicus curiae

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday allowed senior advocate Harish Salve to withdraw as amicus curiae for the suo motu case on the acute shortage of oxygen and mismanagement by the government on the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

A Special Bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde, who is retiring today, objected to senior lawyers’ ‘imputing motives’ on the top court for attempting to ‘stall’ proceedings in various High Courts related to the Covid-19.

The apex court did not stop high courts from hearing cases related to COVID-19 management in the country, the CJI observed.

“Senior advocates are destroying this institution. Even before the order was passed, motives were imputed that we were going to stop the high court. Is this the way senior advocates behave,” the bench rapped some senior counsels.

The bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, criticised Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave for his response to its order without reading the judgment.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court had made Mr Salve the amicus curiae in the case.

Several counsels had criticised Salve’s appointment. Mr Dave, for instance, had pointed out that Salve’s closeness to the current regime was well known and his impartiality could be questioned.

“I don’t want the case to be heard under a shadow that I was appointed because of my school friendship with the CJI. I did not know our bar was divided between advocates who appear for industries and against it. I don’t want aspersions to be cast,” Mr Salve said on Friday.

“We will honour your sentiments and you must have been pained. We will allow your request. I also saw what a senior lawyer said but everyone has an opinion,” CJI responded to Salve.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta requested Mr Salve not to withdraw from the case, saying “no one should succumb to such pressure tactics”.

Taking a suo motu cognisance of the present Covid-19 situation in the country, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to present a “national plan” on the management of pandemic that would include the oxygen supply, essential drugs and method of vaccination.

“We want to know. Concerning the four issues of supply of oxygen, supply of essential drugs, method and manner of vaccination and we want to keep the power to declare lockout with the states,” said the Chief Justice.

 

“We as a court wish to take suo motu cognisance of certain issues. We find that there are 6 High Courts -Delhi, Bombay, Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh, Calcutta, and Allahabad. They are exercising jurisdiction in their best interest. We appreciate that. But it is creating confusion and diversion of resources,” the CJI said.

 

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