Staff Reporter

`Judicial activism can't encroach upon tasks of governance'

NEW DELHI: Speakers at a debate on "Judicial Activism and Sealing in Delhi" organised by the All India Democratic Lawyers Association at the Indian Law Institute here on Tuesday objected to the manner in which the sealing issue in the Capital was being handled by the Supreme Court.

While refusing to make a direct comment on the merits and facts of the case, former Chief Justice of India J. S. Verma said judicial activism did not mean encroaching upon the tasks of the other arms of governance. He added that passing orders that could not be implemented would lead to erosion of credibility of the institution and, if that happens, people would take to the streets.

Elaborating on the principle of judicial activism, Justice Verma said it should be based on a juristic principle, either existing or new, and should either be guided by a precedent or set a precedent for similar situations in future.

Justice Verma further added that he was also in favour of transparency in matters like process of appointment of judges. "It may be kept confidential till the process is complete. But once it is done, there is no harm is revealing the process and the manner in which the final result was arrived at," he said.

The former Chief Justice also stated that all the arms of governance must realise that their powers were derived from the same source -- the people -- and, therefore, none of them should feel superior to the other.

General Secretary of Confederation of All-India Traders Praveen Khandelwal said judicial activism was fine but there had to be some humanitarian consideration in issues involving the livelihood of lakhs of people. "There must be some clause, some section somewhere in the Constitution that talks of treating things on humanitarian grounds," he said.

"When the Government itself has accepted that illegal urban growth has not been checked in the past 40 years, why are only traders being targeted? It is not only about economic losses but loss of livelihood of about 80 lakhs people," said Mr. Khandelwal. He lamented that the traders were already facing acute problems due to an inactive Government and other bodies concerned and the Supreme Court orders only added to their woes.

Former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association P. H. Parekh said it was unfortunate that the judiciary was forced to take up functions that were not strictly within its ambit but a shock treatment was needed to set things right.

Former Supreme Court-appointed MCD court commissioner Ashok Arora, who had resigned from the job, said the sealing issue should be dealt with in haste. "It would have been better if the Court had asked for a blueprint of removing the encroachments in a phased manner," he said.