Sorabjee praises SC’s sentinel role in protecting, enlarging human rights

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 28 Oct 2018 09:47:45


Staff Reporter,

Eminent jurist and former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee on Saturday praised the Supreme Court of India for playing a sentinel role in protecting and enlarging the human rights through creative judicial interpretation. The democratic edifice is not secure if the newspapers and court judgements are full of only praise of Government, but fortunately in India, a vigilant press and independent judiciary have kept the State institutions and public functionaries on the toes, he noted with a sense of satisfaction.

Delivering first Adv Sudarshan Gordey Memorial Lecture organised by High Court Bar Association (HCBA), Sorabjee justified the judicial interventions in the light of notorious tardiness of legislature and the inertia, almost bordering on callousness of executive. According to indignant critics, some orders in the PILs tantamount to Government by judiciary, but Sorabjee stressed that when continued dereliction’s of statutory and constitutional obligations and gross violations of human rights by public authorities are brought to the notice of the court, it cannot fold its hand and refuse to act.

Unlike the executive or the legislature, the judiciary can neither prevaricate nor procrastinate, it must promptly respond, he quipped.

While answering the criticism of courts made due to delay, Sorabjee lamented that their stellar role in enlarging fundamental rights is often ignored. Mere declaration of rights without remedies is useless, he stated while citing examples of immense contribution of Supreme Court in ensuring right to live with dignity, protecting ecology, environmental protection, preventing custodial violence, unleashing prison reforms, freeing bonded labour. He also praised the Apex Court for firmly establishing Freedom of Press as fundamental right though it is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution but since this is a collective right of citizens to know, the courts have zealously protected Right of the Press to criticise Government and public functionaries.

The veteran jurist has a word of caution about public interest litigations (PIL) as well and stated that the instrument is abused for personal, political or publicity interest by vested interests. However, abuse of PIL is no ground for its abolition or placing unreasonable fetters on it. Abuse of process is as ancient legal ingenuity. “A good judicial jockey in the saddle can effectively curb the misuse of PIL,” Sorabjee stated while expecting a more vigil by the courts while dealing with PILs.

HCBA President Anil Kilor welcomed the guest. Vice-President Purushottam Patil made introductory remarks. Vice-President Gauri Venkatraman introduced the key note speaker. Senior Advocate Avinash Gordey felicitated Sorabjee. Adv Preeti Rane conducted the proceedings, while HCBA Secretary Praful Khubalkar proposed a vote of thanks.