SC Takes Up COVID Crisis Suo Motu, SC Lawyers Oppose Move
The court said it will examine whether to transfer these issues from the high courts to itself at a later stage.
On Thursday, 22 April, the Supreme Court of India took suo motu cognisance of the crisis unravelling in the country due to the second surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. The apex court registered a case, suo motu, on the management of issues arising in various states due to rising COVID cases.
While taking up the case, the bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde also appointed Senior Advocate Harish Salve as amicus curiae to assist the court on this matter.
“We as a court wish to take suo motu cognisance of certain issues. We find that there are six high courts – Delhi, Bombay Sikkim, MP, Calcutta, and Allahabad. They are exercising jurisdiction in the best interest. But it is creating confusion and diversion of resources.”Supreme Court
SC Might Transfer Cases Pending Before High Courts to Itself
During the proceedings, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked the court whether the Central government should make submissions before the various high courts as the apex court itself will be hearing the matter.
In light of this submission, the court said it will examine whether to transfer these issues from the high courts to itself at a later stage.
The Supreme Court further said that it will be issuing a notice to the relevant parties on the following primary issues:
- Supply of oxygen,
- Supply of essential drugs,
- Method and manner of vaccination and,
- Power to declare a lockdown
“We want the power to clear lockdowns to be with states and it should not be a judicial decision. We will issue notice to the Central government on these issues.”Supreme Court
SCBA Opposes Transfer
Hours after the Supreme Court’s decision, the Supreme Court Bar Association moved a petition challenging the proposed transfer of petitions pending before various high courts.
SCBA has submitted that the Supreme Court has held consistently that High Courts’ powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India “is not only vast enough to cover the ambit of Article 32 thereof, rather it’s ambit travels beyond the later”.
SCBA has stated that since there is the absence of preparedness in advance for the present situation by the Central and state machinery, "some difficulties are arising at the local level and the same are being resolved by various High Courts in view of the local situation".
“High Courts appear to be best suited to deal with the situation, hence it would be proper to allow the Hon’ble High Courts to continue dealing with the present issue.”Supreme Court Bar Association
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