One after the other, three frivolous public interest litigations (PILs) came up in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, May 4. The bench of three, including chief justice K G Balakrishnan was annoyed with the rather silly appeals. The court, of course, threw them out reprimanding them for wasting judicial time. But is it enough to be irritated with such PILs? Why should these three petitions have come up to the bench and wasted the time of high quality judicial officers? Why were they not weeded out? This story from today's Indian Express by Krishnadas Rajagopal, is my pick for the day:
BV Rao | May 5, 2010
Krishnadas Rajagopal, Indian Express, page 6:
An agriculturist who wants five-year-old children in primary classes to learn the entire text of the Constitution of India, a lawyer who wants the Supreme Court to abolish paper currency in toto and a private citizen who “strongly feels” that it will be a patriotic gesture to do away with all the pre-Independence laws.
These are the three “public interest” petitions the highest court in the country had to deal with on Monday. All three came one after the other for hearing before a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan, and admittedly annoyed the three judges.
“Is this the state of public interest litigations? There are so many other cases waiting for a hearing here,” observed the Chief Justice of India.
The Supreme Court has on various occasions expressed strong reservations about how “nuisance” PILs eat up precious court time. A total of 54,864 cases is pending in the Supreme Court at the end of March 2010 while 5,981 new cases were registered during the month. Hem Raj Singh Chaudhary, a 24-year-old agriculturist from Haryana, strongly believes that villages in India can turn into “Paris” if the complex text of the Indian Constitution is introduced “as part of the syllabus in primary classes”.
Chaudhary good-naturedly told the Bench in Hindi that the Constitution should be learnt as “quickly as possible” as it is the foundation of all laws in the country.
The Chief Justice, however, asked him to approach the Education Ministry or the NCERT with his plea. “We cannot pass directions like this here,” said the Bench, dismissing the PIL.
Next in line was Satpal Kagra, who told the court that it would ideally be a patriotic move if the court directs the Union to toss out laws which the Colonial British wrote for the country. Only those laws passed by Parliament should continue, Kagra said.
“So that will mean the Indian Penal Code should go? The Penal Code was not signed by an Indian. And what do you think we should adjudicate on then?” the Bench snubbed Kagra.
Avaninder Kumar Jha, a lawyer, wanted nothing short of a total abolishment of paper currency. “I see, so how would you pay your vegetable vendor?” an annoyed Chief Justice asked the lawyer, “You will probably pay him through e-mail.”
Highly placed sources in the Supreme Court said that “proper guidelines are in place to filter PILs”, but some do get through the process as they are filed by persons in individual capacity and not via lawyers.
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