Covid crisis cases: SC allows Harish Salve to withdraw as amicus

The Supreme Court on Thursday took the suo moto cognisance of the several high court hearings underway regarding Covid-19 preparedness across the country and issued a notice to the Centre, states and UTs on the supply of Covid care essentials, such as oxygen and medicines.

The Supreme Court on Friday allowed senior counsel Harish Salve to withdraw as amicus curiae in the suo motu case related to management of the crisis and supply of Covid-care essentials like oxygen and medicines across the country.

A Special Bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, who demitted office on Friday, and justices LN Rao and S Ravindra Bhat, granted time to the Centre to file response and posted the matter for further hearing on Tuesday.

However, the judges rapped some senior advocates for making statements on its order passed on Thursday. “You have imputed motives to us without reading our order,” the bench told senior counsel Dushyant Dave, who was appearing in the matter. “We are also pained at reading what some senior lawyers have to say on Salve’s appointment as amicus in the matter,” the bench said, adding that it was a “collective decision” of all the judges at the bench.

“We never said a word and did not stop the HCs. We asked the Centre to go to HCs and report to them. What kind of perception are you talking about?” justice Bhatt told Dave, who said that the “entire country thought that you will transfer (matters from HCs to the SC)”.

Several senior lawyers, including Dave, had voiced their perceptions on the Bench’s sudden intervention on Thursday, taking suo motu cognisance of the issue when six HCs across the country were hearing the cases. They commented that the apex court should not have disturbed the HC proceedings and even tried to transfer the cases to itself.

The Supreme Court on Thursday took the suo moto cognisance of the several high court hearings underway regarding Covid-19 preparedness across the country and issued a notice to the Centre, states and UTs on the supply of Covid care essentials, such as oxygen and medicines.

“HCs have passed certain orders which may have the effect of accelerating and prioritising the services to a certain set of people and slowing down the availability of these resources to certain other groups whether the groups are local, regional or otherwise,” the SC said in its order passed on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Bench allowed Salve to recuse after the senior counsel said: “The country is on tenterhooks. This is one of the most sensitive cases the court will ever handle. I don’t want it to be taken up under a shadow that I was appointed as the amicus because I know the CJI,” Salve said, adding that “we have reached a situation where we have to consider what the narrative is. We have lost elegance, narrative”.

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