NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today sought response of the Uttar Pradesh government on a plea challenging an Allahabad High Court order rejecting the bail plea of the proprietor of a firm which supplied oxygen to a government hospital in Gorakhpur where scores of children died last year.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Manish Bhandari who is in jail for last seven months, said that it was an admitted position that the children died of Japanese Encephalitis and not due to short supply of oxygen.
He referred to the stand of the state government and added that the accused has been suffering due to the media trial.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar asked the state government to file its reply within 12 weeks.
"Issue notice, fixing a returnable date within twelve weeks. Let a copy of the petition be served on Aishwarya Bhati, Additional Advocate General for Uttar Pradesh, for consideration of the prayer for bail. List the matter on April 9," the bench said.
More than 60 children, mostly infants, had died at the hospital within a week in August 2017.
There were allegations that the deaths occurred due to disruption in oxygen supply over unpaid bills to the vendor.
The Allahabad High Court had in February rejected the bail plea of Manish Bhandari, the proprietor of the firm which supplied oxygen to the government-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College in Gorakhpur.
The high court had on February 13 rejected the bail petition of Bhandari, saying, "the court is inclined to accept the submission that custodial interrogation of the accused may still be warranted and it would not be appropriate to grant him bail at this stage."
The counsel for the UP government had opposed the petition, saying the investigation in the case was pending and Bhandari may be required for it.