A lawyers' body Thursday moved the Supreme Court, which has taken suo motu cognisance of prevailing grim pandemic situation in the country, urging it to allow various high courts to deal with the COVID-19 related issues at local level saying they "appear to be best suited to deal with the situation".
Earlier in the day, a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde took note of the pandemic situation due to sudden surge in COVID-19 cases and 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.
The bench, also comprising justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, said it would also deal with the method and manner of COVID-19 vaccination in the country and the aspect relating to judicial power of the high courts to declare lockdown amid the pandemic.
The top court, however, neither stayed the proceedings before the high courts nor transferred to itself the cases pending before high courts.
The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), through its President and senior advocate Vikas Singh, has filed the plea seeking to intervene as a party in the suo-motu case titled as "In Re: Distribution of Essential Supplies and Services During Pandemic" and said the under the given situation, the high courts are best suited to deal with local issues.
"The High Courts, situated almost invariably in the capital of the states, are in a better position to seek immediate reports from the local administration and pass directions and orders for immediate removal of difficulties arising in treatment of the infected patients depending upon local emergent situation. The State machineries are lacking on various aspects and High Courts are suitably dealing with the issues prevailing at local level within their territorial jurisdiction", the plea said.
The plea, also filed by SCBA Secretary Ardhendumauli Kumar Prasad through lawyer Rahul Kaushik, said various petitions have been filed in high courts and they are considering the pandemic related issues and issuing directions keeping in view the local situation within their territorial jurisdictions.
That SCBA is aware of some larger issues like inter-state free and fast movement of essential supplies related to treatment of infected patients as well as basic needs of general public for survival during this misfortune, issues of migrant labourers returning home due to lockdown imposed in the area of their employment, which definitely require a centralised consideration and this Court may take up and resolve those issues by calling upon concerned authorities, the plea said.
It said there was absence of preparedness in advance for the present situation by the central and state machinery and hence, some difficulties are arising at local level and they are being resolved by various high courts.
The High Courts appear to be best suited to deal with the situation, hence it would be proper to allow then High Courts to continue dealing with the present issue, it said.
India registered over 3.14 lakh new coronavirus cases in a day, the highest-ever single-day count recorded in any country, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases in the country to 1,59,30,965.
According to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday, a total of 3,14,835 fresh infections were registered in a span of 24 hours, while the death toll increased to 1,84,657 with a record 2,104 new fatalities.