“It was a well-considered exercise of power,” Supreme Court refuses to interfere with Karnataka High Court oxygen allocation order

The Supreme Court today refused to interfere with the Karnataka High Court order directing the Central government to immediately increase the allocation of oxygen to the State to 1,200 metric tonne (MT) per day amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Justices DY Chandrachud and MR Shah passed the order in the appeal by the Central government challenging the Karnataka High Court order of May 5.

When today’s hearing began, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Bench that if High Courts pass such orders, it will be “unworkable”. In response, Justice Chandrachud said,

“We have read the order and we know the sequence of events. We will say it is a well-calibrated and thought out order.”

Even as SG Mehta failed to convince the Court that it should interfere, the Bench said,

“We will not interfere with this today. It is a well-considered exercise of power by the High Court. If it was a breach of executive power etc, then we would have considered.”

SG Mehta nevertheless submitted,

“This leaves room for every High Court to start examining and allocating oxygen…please order that this be not treated as a precedent.”

However, Justice Chandrachud responded,

“We are looking at a wider issue. We will not keep the citizens of Karnataka in the lurch in the meanwhile.”

In its appeal before the apex court, the Central government submitted that the High Court failed to consider the rationale behind allocation of certain amounts of oxygen to each State.

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