The Aurangabad Bench of Bombay HC has given a warning to the Food and Drugs Department, along with the nodal officers responsible for distribution of oxygen in the State that they will be personally liable in case there is a failure on their end to cope with oxygen requirements in districts under their jurisdiction.
These observations were made by the Bench after it perused an affidavit filed by the Secretary of Medical Education and Drugs Department and four nodal officers which stated that “the need for oxygen may have marginally fallen in view of the decline in the number of patients in this part of the State“.
The affidavit prayed that there may not be a fixed requirement of 218 MT of oxygen per day for the Aurangabad Division as per the earlier order, given that the supply fluctuated on a day to day basis depending upon the need of oxygen.
A Bench of Justices RV Ghuge and BU Debadwar, while agreeing to the same also made it clear that officers will be held responsible:
- in case oxygen shortage arises in future or
- any death is caused due to such shortage.
The Bench further said that if there is any uproar over shortage of oxygen or that patients are being turned away for lack of oxygen supply or a patient has died, the officers will be personally responsible for the same.
The Court expressed concern on two issues:
- That non-residents of Aurangabad division should not be turned back only because they hail from other districts;
- Due to the aggressive spread of the virus affecting the lungs during the second wave, there is more demand for oxygen.
The Court said that it had no intention of issuing directions which would lead to the snatching of the supply of oxygen and Remdesivir from any other district not under the jurisdiction of Aurangabad Bench and further made it absolutely clear that their order to maintain a supply of 218 MT of oxygen was passed with an intention to overcome the shortfall of oxygen and avoid a situation which arose in Goa.
Surendranath Law College, Kolkata