Dec 14: The Apex Court headed by K G Balakrishnan, Chief Justice of India on Thursday brought to an end the confusion created by the two-judge Bench comprising Justice A K Mathur and Justice Markendya Katzu in a recent judgment on the scope of Public Interest Litigation (PIL).
The Chief Justice said in a clear cut way that the observations of the two-judge bench against “judicial activism and overreach” did not mean that PILs could not be entertained. He further said the Monday’s ruling was not binding.
“We are a three-judge bench and are not bound by a two-judge bench order,” responded CJI Mr. Balakrishnan comprising other two Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal while asked by an advocate Ravinder Bana whether his plea in the light of Monday’s two bench order would be entertained by the court or not.
On Monday the Apex Court Bench comprising Justice Mathur and Justice Katzu had observed that in the name of judicial activism judges cannot cross their limits and try to take over functions belong to other domain.
"Judges must know their limits and must not try to run the government. They must have modesty and humility and not behave like emperors," the bench had said.
The repercussion of the ‘observations of Monday’ came on Tuesday when Apex Court Justice Sinha refused to hear the public interest litigation filed by and NGO Prajwala on the rehabilitation of under trial women in prisons. Justice Sinha said that the matter comes under the jurisdiction of the Executive and the Legislature and it is not our but their duty to look into the matter.
Justice Sinha further said that the petition should be placed before the Chief Justice of India for the reconsideration of the matter in view of the Monday’s judgment of this court, whether this court has the power to address the issue raised in the petition and whether it is competent enough to grant relief sought in the petition.
The counsel for the “Environmental and Consumer Protection Foundation” which is fighting for a good cause for rehabilitation of about 20,000 widows staying in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh said they are caught in dilemma whether their PIL would be entertained or not after the Monday’s judgment.
The Chief Justice responded, “We are not bound by the two-judge Bench order.” He further told counsel that the PIL should be used for people’s interest and not for the personal one. Make sure the report is correct, verify the fact personally and then file a petition. Do not file the petition based on newspaper reports.
The advocate appearing for Delhi NGO, Environment and Consumer Protection Fund highlighted the deplorable condition of widows living in Vrindavan and parts of Mathura. He cited the newspaper reports saying that these widows were paid Rs 3 in the morning and the same amount in the evening for singing in the name of lord.
The Bench told him firmly: “We shall not go by the newspaper report.” Assure you first the report is right.
Further the Court issued a notice in seeking a response from the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh governments only after the bench was assured by the advocate that he had personally visited and watched the deplorable condition in which widows were living.
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