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Medical oxygen supply to Madhya Pradesh was halted in view of a circular issued by the State of Maharashtra on September 7 restricting the supply of liquid oxygen outside the State amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Madhya Pradesh High Court today directed the Maharashtra-based dealer to continue supplying liquid medical oxygen to hospitals in Madhya Pradesh.
A plea had been moved by a Madhya Pradesh Government-owned hospital before the High Court after the oxygen supply was ceased.
The supply was halted in view of a circular issued by the State of Maharashtra on September 7 restricting the supply of liquid oxygen outside the State in view of the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
Issuing notice in a plea moved by Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Hospital, owned by the Madhya Pradesh State Government, the Bench of Justices SC Sharma and Shailendra Shukla injuncted the Maharashtra-based Inox Air Products from halting oxygen supplies into Madhya Pradesh.
Inox had halted trading liquid oxygen with the hospital following a Maharashtra State Government Circular directing that 80% of the liquid oxygen produced in Maharashtra would have to be used in hospitals within the State.
The Court was told that the State of Madhya Pradesh does not manufacture or produce liquid oxygen. Hence, the hospital in question was constrained to enter into an agreement for the supply of oxygen with Inox Air Products in Maharashtra.
The hospital needed oxygen supplies for the treatment of COVID-19 cases in the State, which continue to peak, the Court was informed.
Arguing that discrimination cannot be made between COVID-19 patients in one State over another, the Advocate-General of Madhya Pradesh also brought on record the Centre's concerns with the Maharashtra Government Circular in question.
He submitted that the Centre has specifically written to Chief Secretaries of the States to continue with medicine supply agreements between hospitals and also those across States.
The Advocate-General further stated that it was unfortunate that oxygen supply was discontinued despite the Centre's intervention.
The High Court, in turn, noted that the question of its territorial jurisdiction over the case, which had ramifications in another State, was an obvious bone of legal contention. Therefore, it would be left open, the Bench said.
However, on finding that the petitioner-hospital was able to make out a prima facie case for the grant of interim relief, the Court proceeded to order:
Advocate-General Purusheaindra Kaurav and Additional Advocate General Pushyamitra Bhargav, appeared for the Government hospital.
Read the Order here: