'Can't be mute spectator in national crisis': SC as COVID-19 wreaks havoc

'Can't be mute spectator in national crisis': SC as COVID-19 wreaks havoc

High courts are in a better position to monitor the pandemic situation within their territorial boundaries.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it cannot remain a mute spectator and made clear that its suo motu proceeding on devising national policy for COVID-19 management is not meant to supplant high court cases.

During the hearing, the SC bench of justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat said high courts are in a better position to monitor the pandemic situation within their territorial boundaries.

The SC bench said it did not want to prevent any high court from exercising its power but would rather play a “complimentary role and help in issues they are not able to look into”.

During hearing of suo motu case on COVID-19 management, Supreme Court observed, "At the time of national crisis, this court cannot remain a mute spectator. We intend to play a complimentary role to High Courts. High Courts have a valuable role to play."

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"We are playing complementary role, if High Courts have any difficulty in dealing with issues due to territorial limitations, we will help," said the bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat.

A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud said high courts are in a better position to monitor the pandemic situation within their territorial 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.

Last Thursday, the bench took note of the pandemic situation due to sudden surge in COVID-19 cases as also mortality and said it expected the Centre to come out with a "national plan" to deal with distribution of essential services and supplies, including oxygen and drugs.

Observing that oxygen to patients infected with the virus is said to be an "essential part" of treatment, the top court had said it seemed that a certain amount of "panic" has been generated due to which people have approached several high courts seeking relief.

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