NEW DELHI, May 3
Concerned over the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country, the Supreme Court said the Centre and State Governments may consider imposing a "lockdown to curb the virus in the second wave in the interest of public welfare".
However, the apex Court put a caveat before them saying if they decide to go for lockdown then arrangements must be made beforehand to cater to the needs of the poor people.
A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud, in its order passed in the suo motu case for ensuring essential supplies and services during the COVID-19 pandemic, also asked the Centre and State Governments to put on record the efforts taken and to be taken by them in future to ensure that the disease does not spread further.
In a 64-page order uploaded on the apex Court's website late Sunday night, the bench, also comprising Justices L Nagesara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, said, "In light of the continuing surge of infections in the second wave of the pandemic, we direct the Central Government and State Governments to put on record the efforts taken to curb the spread of the virus and the measures that they plan on taking in the near future.
"At the same time, we would seriously urge the Central and State Governments to consider imposing a ban on mass gatherings and super spreader events.
"They may also consider imposing a lockdown to curb the virus in the second wave in the interest of public welfare," Justice Chandrachud, writing the order for the bench, said.
The apex Court said that it was "cognizant of the socio-economic impact of a lockdown", specifically, on the marginalized communities.
"Thus, in case the measure of a lockdown is imposed, arrangements must be made beforehand to cater to the needs of these communities," it said.
The bench on April 22 had taken note of the pandemic situation due to sudden surge in COVID-19 cases as also in mortality and said it expected the Centre to come out with a "National plan" to deal with the distribution of essential services and supplies, including oxygen and drugs.
It has been reported that the Supreme Court said gaining admission into a hospital with a bed is one of the biggest challenges, being faced by most individuals during the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.
The top Court said: "Different States and local authorities follow their own protocols. Differing standards for admission in different hospitals across the Nation leads to chaos and uncertainty. The situation cannot brook any delay."
The Court also directed that the Centre to create a buffer stock of oxygen in collaboration with the State Governments to ensure supply lines continue to function even in unforeseen circumstances and decentralise the location of the emergency stocks. The order said: "The emergency stocks shall be created within the next four days and is to be replenished on a day to day basis, in addition to the existing allocation of oxygen supply to the States."
India, in last 24 hours, recorded 3,68,147 new COVID-19 cases and taking the cumulative tally to 1,99,25, 604. Indian Express and agencies