SC pulls up Centre for asking court to show restraint

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New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up the government after the latter asked the court to "restrain" from making adverse remarks against governance while dealing with PILs.

The apex court said it was at least "solving problems" and was in no way "criticising the government".

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told a bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur that the court was passing orders in individual public interest litigations (PILs) without realising the financial impact.

Venugopal made references to newspaper headlines based on the observations made by the bench.

Giving examples, Venugopal said that while the cancellation of the 2G licenses by the court virtually wiped out huge foreign investments, another order for removal of liquor vends on highways caused a financial loss and people lost their livelihood.

"There is a question of budgetary allocations... Government's 80-90 welfare programs are going on simultaneously... Court dealing with one issue and passes order but from where the funds would come," Venugopal pleaded.

"Judges may not know all aspects of every problem when they choose to make adverse comments against the government," he added.

Justice Lokur shot back saying it was because of the court's order that the government has collected over Rs 1,50,000 crore as environment funds for illegal mining.

The court wanted to know why that amount has not been spent.

The bench also comprising Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice Deepak Gupta said: "Let us make it clear that we have not and we are not criticising the government for everything.

"We are also citizens of this country. Do not give the impression that we are criticising the government and preventing it from working. We are only enforcing rights of people. We cannot wish away Article 21."

Many developments have happened only because of the orders of the court, the bench said, adding: "You should only ask your officers to follow the laws made by Parliament."

The bench of Justice Lokur has been hearing PILs relating to pollution, environment, garbage, overcrowding of prisons -- conditions of women and children there -- shelter homes for children, rehabilitation of widows, illegal mining and other matters, and passing orders.

Venugopal said that with 1.3 billion population which is increasing exponentially there were several problems faced by the country, and every order on PILs should have a separate note as to the effects of such orders on other sectors, effect on budgeting, rights of others who could be affected and every order has to be balanced and well thought of as India has "enormous problems".

The Attorney General said that he has conveyed his views to the court about dealing with the PILs and the court should consider his submissions without any offence.

The court was hearing a PIL relating to inhuman condition prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country which are overcrowded.

The court wanted setting up of an one member committee of a retired judge of the apex court to recommend measures on prison reform, including overcrowding, and women prisoners languishing in jails.

It said the Committee would be assisted by two-three government officials that would file periodical reports to the apex court.

Posting the matter for August 17, the bench asked the Centre to file details of the proposed committee.