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Cannot be a mute spectator during national crisis: Supreme Court

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Calling the massive spike of cases during the ongoing COVID-19 wave a “national crisis”, the Supreme Court Tuesday said it cannot remain a mute spectator.

The apex court made clear that its suo motu proceeding on devising national policy for COVID-19 management is not meant to supplant high court cases.


A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud said high courts are in a better position to monitor the pandemic situation within their territorial boundaries.

“The object of these proceedings are not to supplant the High Courts or to take over from High Courts what they are doing. High Courts are in a better position to monitor what is going on within their territorial boundaries,” the bench clarified.

“During national crisis, Supreme Court cannot be a mute spectator. The role of the Supreme Court is complimentary in nature. The issues which travails state boundaries is what this court will look into and thus Article 32 jurisdiction has been assumed”, said the Court, according to

“We are playing complementary role, if High Courts have any difficulty in dealing with issues due to territorial limitations, we will help, said the bench, also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat.

Last Thursday, the bench took note of the pandemic situation due to sudden surge in COVID-19 cases as also 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.

Observing that oxygen to patients infected with the virus is said to be an essential part of treatment, the top court had said it seemed that a certain amount of panic has been generated due to which people have approached several high courts seeking relief.