New Delhi, Aug 8: While a Supreme Court bench heard a matter on inhuman conditions in Indian jails, the Centre on Wednesday told the apex court to restrain from making observations on Public Interest Litigation (PIL) matters, saying these had an impact on issues plaguing the country. The apex court also shot back by saying that its judges were also citizens of the country and so, knew the problems faced by the country. (Also read: SC Directs Amrapali Group to Furnish Asset Details of Promoters) Also Read - Hathras Gangrape Case: Supreme Court to Pronounce Verdict on Two Key Matters Today
Attorney general (AG) KK Venugopal told a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur that he was not “criticising” the apex court, but the problems facing the country were enormous and, in the past, its orders and judgements have resulted in a situation where people have lost their jobs. Referring to apex court judgements on PILs relating to the 2G spectrum allocation cases and the order banning the sale of liquor within 500 metres of highways across the country, he said those had impacted foreign investment and caused job losses respectively. (Also read: SC Slams L-G Baijal Over Delhi’s Garbage Menace) Also Read - Will Bring New Legislation to Tackle Air Pollution in Delhi-NCR, Centre Tells Supreme Court
Venugopal told the bench, which also comprised justices S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta, that the country was facing several problems and the court should also look at the progress made by the government. At which, Justice Lokur shot back, “We are trying to solve some of these problems” and referred to the matters relating to the rights of widows, children and prisoners which were being dealt with by the apex court. “We are also citizens of this country and we know the problems which the country is facing,” the judge told Venugopal. Also Read - Delhi-NCR Pollution News: SC Appoints Ex-judge Madan Lokur as One-man Panel to Monitor Stubble Burning
The AG told the court that while dealing with a matter, there are possibilities that the court might not consider the impact it would have on some other aspects. “With the Supreme Court’s intervention, tremendous inroads have been made but problems in India are enormous,” he said. To this, Justice Lokur said, “We are making it clear that we have not and we are not criticising the government for everything.”
During the hearing, Venugopal referred to the issue of budgetary restrictions and said around 200 million people were living below the “hunger line and the government’s priority was to help such people out of penury. He said if PILs were filed, they should have a separate paragraph dealing with the impact the issue raised might have on other aspects.
But the bench expressed its displeasure over the government collecting huge sums of money, running into over Rs one lakh crore, under the orders of the apex court, but the funds not being used properly. “Through orders of this court, you have got Rs 130,000 to Rs 150,000 crore. Do something with that money,” the bench said.
The AG told the bench that India has a population of around 1.3 billion which was increasing exponentially and there were several problems in the country. “Day in, day out, I read newspapers and your observations,” the AG told the bench. To this, Justice Lokur said, “Rest assured that Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) will remain here and we will uphold it.” (With Agency Inputs)