Judicial Activism Better Than Ignoring Plight Of Poor And Voiceless: SC

Let me begin by first and foremost pointing out here explicitly that after facing a barrage of sharp and severe criticism from various quarters, including the Centre for overstepping its domain through judicial activism, the Supreme Court on February 9 minced absolutely no words in saying it pinpointedly that the judiciary would be left with no option if the government failed to discharge its duty and problems of the poor and voiceless remained unaddressed! One cannot but endorse fully and firmly what the Supreme Court has said. This alone explains why it is so famously said that, “When all others fail, it is the judiciary that steps in ultimately to fill in the voids.”

To put things in perspective, the Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta categorically and convincingly said that, “Should the judiciary take corrective steps and be accused of judicial activism or overreach – or should the cynics and skeptics have their days resulting in the grievances of the voiceless and disadvantaged remaining unheard and the fundamental and human rights lying unaddressed?” This was said by the Apex Court Bench while passing a slew of directions for protection of rights of children, particularly those who are caught on the wrong side of law. Who can deny or dispute this?

While craving for the exclusive indulgence of my esteemed readers, let me inform them that the Bench of Apex Court also very rightly asked that, “What can a citizen do if the state pays no attention to his or her fundamental or human or statutory right, nor takes serious interest in fulfilling its constitutional or statutory obligations? What if that citizen is voiceless child or someone whose voice cannot be heard over the din of governance – for example, physically or mentally challenged persons, senior citizens and other disadvantaged sections of society such as scheduled castes, tribals and several others?” We know it all too well how Supreme Court has on numerous occasions not dithered in stepping up the gas and ruling even on such issues which can be considered as encroachment on the fields in which the legislature has the final say but which became necessary as the legislature just simply failed in doing its job effectively! So whenever the government tends to blame the judiciary for overreaching its limits, it must also self-introspect as to why the judiciary was compelled to step in.

For my esteemed readers exclusive indulgence, let me also inform them that while taking a dig at the Centre and State governments for its failure to take effective steps to protect child rights, the Bench said that it was compelled to pass directions as they have failed to enforce various laws including Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act in true spirit, leading to rights of children being violated. It is high time and now both the Centre and State governments must honestly self introspect as to why repeatedly the judiciary is compelled to step in and why they themselves fail to act appropriately to protect the supreme interest of children, women and others! Just launching a scathing attack on judiciary and not looking within as we see many senior Cabinet Ministers indulging in time and again only exposes their own true character in front of the people and it does no damn good to their own reputation no matter how hard they may mould their mind to believe in! Politicians must always recall what Gautam Buddha had once very rightly said that, “When you point one finger at other, you point three fingers towards your ownself”!

Let me hasten to add here that the Supreme Court Bench very rightly said while quoting Nelson Mandela that, “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation”. The Bench also very rightly added that, “Our policy and decision makers need to heed this advice and warning and appreciate that they are not doing any favour to the children of our country by caring for them – it is their constitutional obligation and the social justice laws enacted by Parliament need to be effectively and meaningfully enforced.” It also very rightly directed the States to constitute special juvenile police units and appoint child welfare officers.

All said and done, it will do a world of good to the Centre and State governments if they honestly self introspect what the Supreme Court has said so rightly and admit their short comings without any hesitation. Instead of blaming the judiciary for overstepping its domain by judicial activism, they must start admitting where all they have failed to take any action and urgently act on them with sincerity so that the judiciary is not compelled to step in!

As for instance, the state of Uttar Pradesh has maximum pending cases and tops the states list in high court with more than 10 lakh pending cases and in lower courts with more than 60 lakh pending cases and has maximum population more than 22 crore as politicians themselves proudly say, maximum MPs, maximum MLAs, maximum Mayors, maximum crime to the extent that former UN Secretary General Ban ki moon slammed UP as “rape and crime capital of India”, maximum custodial deaths, maximum riots, maximum districts, maximum towns, maximum villages more than one lakh, maximum PM including incumbent Narendra Modi and what not yet no PM till now has dared to create even a single bench more of high court in UP other than the one that Jawaharlal Nehru who was our first PM created 70 years ago on July 1, 1948 at Lucknow which is just about 150-200 km away from Allahabad where high court itself is located! The population of West UP is more than 9 crore and more than half of the pending cases are from West UP still it has no high court bench even though the lawyers of more than 26 districts have been regularly demanding a high court bench here since 1947 and have been regularly striking work for 6 months as they did in 2001, three-four months as they did in 2014-15, one mo nth as they did in 2010 apart from the strikes of Saturday every week since May 1981 and many times even on Wednesdays because the litigants are compelled to travel more than 800 km on an average all the way to Allahabad as there is no high court bench here and have to go without reservation whole night many times and face all sorts of unnecessary inconveniences!

As if this is not enough, Justice Jaswant Singh Commission appointed by former PM late Mrs Indira Gandhi to look into where all benches are needed recommended for 3 benches in UP at Agra, Dehradun and Nainital but not one bench was set up anywhere in UP even though on its recommendations benches were approved for Aurangabad in Maharashtra, Jalpaiguri in West Bengal and Madurai in Tamil Nadu! As if this was not enough, Centre in 2012 created 2 more benches for Karnataka for just 4 and 8 districts at Dharwad and Gulbarga! Even now it is not enough. Centre in 2018 decided to create a high court bench in Maharashtra which already had 3 benches at Panaji, Nagpur and Aurangabad by naming Kolhapur for just 6 districts of Kolhapur, Solapur, Ratnagiri, Satara, Sangli and Sindhudurg!

If Court tomorrow orders the creation of more high court benches in UP, Centre will again blame judiciary for indulging in judicial activism! With what face does Centre even tend to speak on this? Allahabad High Court is the biggest court in Asia as also oldest which completed 150 years 2 years back in 2016 and Uttar Pradesh one of the biggest state yet has just one bench only which is so near to Allahabad created 70 years ago but not any time later till now!

On a concluding note, States like Assam has 4 benches, Maharashtra and Karnataka has 3 benches and even MP has 2 benches and so is the case with many other states but UP has just one bench still no step has been taken in last 70 years to create a bench anywhere in UP! Both Centre and State of UP have miserably failed the largest population of the country by repeatedly failing to act on this by creating more benches so that the “poor and needy people” are able to avail of speedy justice at their doorsteps as envisaged in Article 39A of the Constitution! Yet they are always ready to cough up excuses and excuses for not setting up more high court benches in UP especially West UP where lawyers of more than 26 districts just recently went on strike for nearly 10 days in February to protest the raw discrimination meted out to the people here by not approving even a single high court bench here! Still should Centre not act immediately even now? 

Sanjeev Sirohi, Advocate,

s/o Col BPS Sirohi,

A 82, Defence Enclave,

Sardhana Road, Kankerkhera,

Meerut – 250001, Uttar Pradesh.