Will treat action against social media Covid appeals as ‘contempt of court’: SC

Updated on Apr 30, 2021 03:17 PM IST
  • The top court also said that the healthcare infrastructure has been inherited in the last 70 years and so the proceedings are not to criticise the Centre or states.
The Supreme Court on Friday said it will treat action by states against people’s appeals on social media as ‘contempt of court’.(HT file)
The Supreme Court on Friday said it will treat action by states against people’s appeals on social media as ‘contempt of court’.(HT file)
By | Written by Susmita Pakrasi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Friday said no state can register a first information report (FIR) or take any action against people appealing for help or putting out their grievances on social media or elsewhere during the coronavirus pandemic. "We will treat this as contempt of our court. Let us hear the voices of our citizens and not clampdown," the top court said.

“It is a grave concern to me as a citizen or judge. If citizens communicate their grievances on social media, we do not want to clamp down on information,” Justice DY Chandrahud said during the hearing as cases of Covid-19 surged across the country.

The top court also said that the healthcare infrastructure has been inherited in the last 70 years and so the proceedings are not to criticise the Centre or states. "We are concerned only about the health of the people and it is not to pass a value judgment," Chandrachud said. He also said that the Centre should show investment by it to ramp up the manufacture of vaccines. “This will be the most important intervention by the central government when private manufacturers have been funded to produce vaccines,” he added.

Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta said Delhi has been unable to lift oxygen because of lack of tankers. Justice Chandrachud said, "According to you, Delhi hasn't been able to lift but we can't tell people that your parents or children or spouse can't be helped now. You tell us the solution."

The SG explained that the Centre is assisting all states asking for help and to a large extent, problems of Delhi are also eased out. The top court asked about a timeline to increase the number of tankers to facilitate transportation. "Give Delhi the additional 200 metric ton of oxygen they need. And also ensure it reaches Delhi," the Supreme Court asked SG Mehta.

The Supreme Court said Delhi represents people from the entire country and the Centre has a peculiar role. "Forget that somebody wasn't able to lift the oxygen but you have to push through because you have to protect lives. You have a special responsibility," it added.

The Supreme Court also asked what has been done to provide treatment to healthcare professionals who are contacting coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The top court on April 22 took suo motu cognizance of the "alarming situation" in connection with various health emergencies including oxygen shortage, during the pandemic and issued notice to the Centre seeking a response on kinds of immediate and effective action it can take to handle such situation. During the previous hearing, the court asked the Centre to present and apprise it as to whether a national plan can be prepared to handle this worrisome situation.

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