Order directing distribution of seized oxygen concentrators among judges, cops, set aside

Seized oxygen concentrators in Delhi | By special arrangement

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New Delhi: A Delhi Court on Saturday set aside an order directing the distribution of oxygen concentrators seized by the Delhi Police among various courts and police personnel, saying that a judge has to act like a selfless and dispassionate saint .

Principal District and Sessions Judge Narottam Kaushal passed the order on a petition filed by the Delhi government seeking revision of an order passed by a magisterial court.

On May 5, Metropolitan Magistrate Anuj Bahal had issued the directions on an application filed by the Delhi Police for release of the seized oxygen concentrators which could be used for saving the lives of police personnel.

The judge had directed the allocation of two oxygen concentrators to DCP Dwarka, two to the Delhi Judicial Academy in Dwarka and the rest to the principal district and session judges of Dwarka, Tis Hazari and Saket.

While setting aside the order, the District and Sessions Judge said that no matter how benevolent and well-intended his act may be, the same cannot breach the constitutional provisions of equality.

Metropolitan Magistrate in his zeal to provide life-saving machines to front line workers i.e. the Delhi Police and to his judicial fraternity was so dazzled that he forgot that a judge on account of the office he occupies has to act and behave like a self-less, dispassionate saint, the judge stated.

The District and Sessions Judge said that Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) has to rise above the interests of self and his ilk.

The order was greatly influenced by the fact that two judicial officers had lost their lives in the battle with COVID-19. One of them being his own brother colleague with whom he shared the corridors, the judge remarked.

He added, On the touchstone of these morals and principles of law, MM seems to have faltered. Impugned order dated May 5, thus, is not sustainable and is set aside.

During the course of proceedings, Additional Public Prosecutor VK Swami argued that the oxygen concentrators should be released to such facilities where they could be used round the clock for those who needed them the most.

He said the order by the Metropolitan Magistrate violated Section-6 (E) of Essential Commodities Act, which states that the collector is the competent authority to order possession, delivery, disposal, release or distribution of the case property.

Judge Kaushal, however, took an exemption to this contention and said that the seized articles having not been notified to be essential commodity, reference to the provisions of Essential Commodities Act or the procedure prescribed therein for release of the case property, is misplaced.

Citing an observation given by the Delhi High Court, the court said that investigating officer ought to have immediately informed the District Magistrate and placed the seized machines at the disposal of the DM for suitable utilisation during the period of investigation.

IO (investigating officer) shall be, within his rights to move a fresh application before the appropriate authority viz. the District Magistrate, in terms of orders passed by High Court in Venkateshwar Hospital’s case or on the basis of notification, if any, declaring the seized articles to be essential commodity. Needless, to say he must act without wasting time, the judge said.

Also read: Auto-ambulances with oxygen support launched in Delhi


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