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National Task Force set up by Supreme Court for effective and transparent medical oxygen supply

The Supreme Court has established a 12-member National Task Force to expedite and guarantee the transparent and efficacious distribution of liquid medical oxygen to States and Union Territories battling COVID-19, on a scientific, fair and equitable basis.

According to an order issued by a bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice MR Shah, the task force’s mandate includes resolving issues pertaining to oxygen supply to various states, recommending precautions to enhance the accessibility of essential medicines, and optimizing all use of required expertise. 

The National Task Force will be convened by the Union Cabinet Secretary, who can appoint an officer not below the position of Additional Secretary to deputize for him if appropriate, according to the bench.

In its order, the Supreme Court stated that the Secretary of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare will serve on the task force as an ex-officio member.

According to the Supreme Court, the task force is free to meet and obtain inputs from the Union Government’s human resources, which include the following: (i) A Niti Aayog member appointed by the Vice-Chairperson; (ii) secretary of Ministry of Human Affairs; (iii) Secretary of Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal  Trade; (iv) Secretary of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways; (v) Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi; (vi) Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research in New Delhi; (vii) Director General of Health Services; (viii) Director-General, National Informatics Centre, and (ix) Head and Centre for Development of Advancing Computing. 

The Task Force may begin working immediately and will last for six months. The Court ordered the Task Force to investigate and report on the urgent issues of oxygen modalities within a week.

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