The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to accept an argument made by the Centre that the High Court cannot deal with the issue of shortage of medical oxygen as Supreme Court has taken congiznace of the same.
"You can't tell us Supreme Court has passed an order and Supreme Court alone will deal with it. We all have to implement, and we are all duty bound", a bench led by Justice Vipin Sanghi told Additional Solicitor General of India Chetan Sharma.
The bench was responding to ASG Sharma's submission that as directions have been laid down by the Apex Court in the matter, the matter should be before the Supreme Court. ASG Sharma also said High Court cannot be the executing court of the Supreme Court.
"I'd respectfully beseech Your Lordships that now that the Supreme Court has very clearly laid down the full elaborate mechanism & directions, the parties are before the Supreme Court, let it be before the Supreme Court. Only those directions, so there's no duplication. " ASG Sharma said
Sharma made the submissions after the division Bench of Justice Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli directed him to take instructions from Centre as to when will action be taken on the communication made by Delhi's Deputy CM to Defence Minister seeking assistance of the Armed Forces to set up COVID facilities, oxygen supply etc.
Responding to the ASG, the bench said that the Supreme Court has considered and dealt with issue of oxygen and State cooperation, but there's nothing said about the dearth of bed in hospitals.
The bench also said that the High Court was duty bound to follow the Supreme Court directions.
During the hearing, Senior Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Delhi government urged the Court to ask Centre to comply with Supreme Court's directions asking it to ensure supply of oxygen.
Sharma, objecting to Mehra's submission stated it should not be taken that this Court is an executing court of the Supreme Court.
The Bench then asked ASG Sharma to specially get back to the Court on the issue ( Regarding Letter by Delhi's deputy CM to Defence Minister seeking Army's assistance)
"Mr Sharma, You can't tell us Supreme Court has passed an order Supreme Court alone will deal with it. We all have to implement, and We are all duty bound." Justice Sanghi said.
Sharma submitted that a wholesome exercise has been done by Supreme Court on points that it took suo moto cognisance of.
"My endeavour is only that those areas that SC hasn't touched, the Court can give directions we bow down. Let there not be over lapping." Sharma said.
"All I'm saying that there is an exercise before the Supreme Court, and they have painstakingly gone through, its a wholesome exercise concentrated on four points that Supreme Court has taken cognisance of. Compulsory licensing and patents act have also found mention in the order" Sharma added.
Sharma further said that the High Court may only pass orders on those areas on which the Supreme Court has not taken cognizance, so that there is no "overlap".
Justice Sanghi clarified that if the the Supreme Court has said that projected demand is 700, "we are not going to review and say that no it should be 800 or 600, we will not get into that".
"The Supreme Court's decision has come, we all have to implement it." the Bench said.
"Why are you not implementing, you have to answer that quickly. That is the main point!" Justice Rekha Palli remarked.
"And You cannot say that we are not entitled to ask you that question." Justice Sanghi said.
The Bench further said "We consider it our duty to ensure compliance of every direction of SC . "
"The area which is mapped out by SC is certain and secure. Not the least am I to suggest that this court will not look into the matter. Whatever the Court tells us we will do with utmost sincerity" Sharma clarified.
Senior Advocate Krishnan Venugopal submitted that the Supreme Court specifically made clear that they are not ousting the High Court's jurisdiction to continue with these matters.
He added that "though the original constitutional position was that Supreme Court and your Lordships court are coordinate Courts and that continues to be the position today, there's a hierarchy, and this Court does not loose its constitutional status or lower itself by making sure that Supreme Court's directions are complied with."
The Bench was hearing the matter concerning Covid 19 situation and supply of medical oxygen in the national capital.
The Delhi High Court has on Monday also directed Centre to report instructions on action taken on communication made by Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, to Defense Minister Rajnath Singh for lending services of armed forces to set up Covid 19 facilities, oxygen supply, etc.