The Supreme Court on Friday said that given the national and transnational ramification of Covid-related cases, High Courts must avoid passing orders that are impossible to implement.
It stayed an Allahabad High Court order in a suo motu case in which the court said that, within four months, all nursing home beds in Uttar Pradesh must have oxygen facility. The High Court had also directed the Uttar Pradesh government to ensure that within a month every UP village had two ambulances with ICU facility.
"High Courts must pass orders that are possible to implement," a Supreme Court bench of Justices Vineet Saran and BR Gavai said on Friday.
The top court, however, refused to cancel the High Court's "Ram Bharose" comment, made on Monday, saying such observations need to be treated as advice.
A two-judge Allahabad High Court bench of Justices Siddharth Varma and Ajit Kumar had earlier this week used the popular Hindi phrase, meaning "at the mercy of God", to refer to entire Uttar Pradesh's medical system, especially in smaller cities and villages.
The bench was hearing a petition demanding better care for Covid patients. It had also said: "So far as the medical infrastructure is concerned, in these few months we have realised that in the manner it stands today, it is very delicate, fragile, and debilitated."
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Uttar Pradesh, told the Supreme Court that observations like "Ram Bharose" demoralise health workers and create panic.
"These observations are made in anxiety and concern for general public. UP can treat this as an observation and advice and not direction," The Supreme Court, however, said on Friday. "We cannot pass sweeping orders for all high courts as this appeal is against Allahabad HC order."
Uttar Pradesh has logged 16.51 lakh coronavirus cases since the pandemic broke. Last month, daily infections rose above the 20,000-mark. Even as the state government insisted there was no shortage of medical oxygen or other resources, critics alleged that patients were struggling.
Over the past few days, disturbing images of bodies of suspected Covid patients have emerged from villages along the Ganga. The Centre has asked UP and Bihar to prevent such instances.