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Supreme Court can't dictate to Govt. on policy issues: Centre

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J. Venkatesan

"You are going too far," retorts Supreme Court Bench

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Friday asserted that the Supreme Court "is not a super Planning Commission to give directions to the Government on policy issues, particularly on future demand and supply position of power in the Capital". Appearing for the National Capital Territory of Delhi, Additional Solicitor-General Amarendra Saran told the Bench of Justice P. K. Balasubramanyan and Justice D. K. Jain hearing a case pertaining to "Delhi power crisis" that the Court had no jurisdiction to take up such cases as the issue was not justiciable.

He said no legal right under Article 21 (life and liberty of a citizen) was involved in the petition and hence the Court could/should not interfere in such cases, adding that the reason for delay in disposal of cases was the Court entertaining such petitions.

To this, the Bench told Mr. Saran: "As a law officer, we don't expect this from you. You are going too far. It is not a constructive approach. We know our jurisdiction and limits and how far we have to go. Our intention is to help the citizens and give them a comfortable living. We cannot tell them we can't do anything."

The Bench then asked the Centre's counsel whether the Government had filed its response to NCT Delhi's affidavit relating to the setting up of a 1,000-MW combined cycle gas turbine station at Bawana and a 330-MW plant in Pragati Phase II for which the feasibility report had already been prepared and all statutory clearances were available.

When counsel sought two weeks' time, the Bench said, "This is the position. You don't file on time and the Court is blamed for the delay." The Bench was hearing a petition filed way back in 1999 complaining about the acute power crisis in the Capital. Senior counsel Ranjit Kumar brought to the notice of the Court "inadequate steps" taken by the Delhi Government to improve power supply.

As a result the State would face deficit power supply for another two years.

In particular, he said, the Centre and the Delhi Development Authority were sitting over a proposal to set up a plant by the Tatas to provide 1,000 MW of power.

As the Centre and the DDA sought time to get instructions on the proposal, the Bench granted two weeks' time for filing the status report and adjourned the hearing to May 18.

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