Source: The Hitavada      Date: 10 Aug 2018 12:29:51

THE episode involving the suggestion of the Central Government to the honourable Supreme Court to restrain itself from making hard-hitting observations on Public Interest Litigation (PIL) matters to avoid a negative impact on the society as regards many issues, and the subsequent reposte` of the Supreme Court that the Centre should obey the law of the land, needs to be looked from a positive perspective rather than just considering it to be a confrontation between the two very critical national institutions. Even though both the parties appear at loggerheads with each other, the quality of issues raised by them is very high and is capable of triggering a welcome process of churning on matters of critical importance. In all likelihood, the interaction, howsoever acerbic in appearance, will throw up a cream of right thinking on the respective roles of the Government as well as the judiciary individually and vis-a-vis each other. There is no doubt in our mind that such an interaction will only enrich the public discourse in the country at a time when a lot of things are threatening to go haywire and disturb the sense of equilibrium that is so necessary in a democratic set up like the one in India. 

Speaking on behalf of the Government, Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal questioned the wisdom of some of the judgements of the Supreme Court and grieved that their impact on the larger society was negative, and that the Supreme Court should avoid such an approach. It was only natural for the honourable justices of the Supreme Court to react rather sharply and insist that they knew the situation on the ground as they, too, are citizens of the country. This aspect of the judges’ thinking is, no doubt, welcome. Yet, the point the Government has tried to make is not something to be dismissed easily. In fact, it is necessary for the Government as well as the judiciary to be on the same side of the line so as to generate a right thought on public affairs.

It must be admitted that in the past some time, the judiciary is registering rather harsh and extreme observations in many matters that come for its consideration. Some time ago, the honourable Supreme Court had insisted that the Government should ensure a proper upkeep of the Taj Mahal in Agra or demolish it. It was, no doubt, an extreme statement, which we understood as an utterance of disgust the honourable judges felt about the reality on the ground. On another occasion, the honourable Supreme Court observed that women were being raped in the country left-right-and-centre. But what triggered the Government’s reaction most critically was the observation of the Supreme Court as regards as Atrocities Act.

Looking in a non-partisan manner at the overall detail of the interaction, we must state that both the parties have displayed a sense of purpose on certain issues. There can never be any doubt about the intentions of the judges. Very rightly, Mr. Justice Madan Lokur said, “We are trying to solve some of the problems”...! Yet, there is a need to ponder over the possibility that certain observations were avoidable or not. That is the only point the Attorney General is probably trying to make.

Let us return to the point of adding a greater value and deeper meaning to public discourse in the country. One of the most endearing virtue of Indian democracy is its vibrance in debate on public policy. Alongside, the Indian democracy has often acted as a stage on which many other issues also are discussed threadbare. In such an atmosphere, it is quite possible that some contributors to public debate may go a little overboard. When that happens, the best thing that the involved parties are expected to do is to observe a sense of balance and restraint so that uncalled for acrimony is avoided at all costs. And , in this case, this is applicable to both, the Government and the judiciary.