SC to hold Satur­day Hear­ings to Re­duce Back­log

CJI says Delhi pol­lu­tion, ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings cases to be heard over the week­end

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Sa­man­waya.Rau­tray @times­

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has de­cided to work on Satur­days for the first time, with the Chief Jus­tice of In­dia TS Thakur seek­ing to set an ex­am­ple by hear­ing a batch of pe­ti­tions re­lat­ing to pol­lu­tion in Delhi, as the num­ber of cases pend­ing with the top court has in­creased to about 60,000.

“Oth­er­wise, there is just no time,” Thakur said to the lawyers deal­ing with the Delhi pol­lu­tion cases in court.

The de­ci­sion comes amid the stale­mate be­tween the high­est court and the Naren­dra Modi govern­ment over who should have the fi­nal say over a judge’s ap­point­ment. The CJI had stepped in dur­ing the win­ter and slapped an en­vi­ron­ment cess to de­ter trucks not car­ry­ing sup­plies to Delhi from en­ter­ing the city in a bid to curb smog from chok­ing the city.

The court’s green bench led by him fol­lowed this up by ban­ning reg­is­tra­tion of all diesel ve­hi­cles above 2,000 cc across Delhi and Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion as Delhi topped the list of the most pol­luted cities in the world. This prompted a host of diesel ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers to file sev­eral cases chal­leng­ing the ban, con­test­ing the ap­par­ent premise that diesel is a more pol­lut­ing fuel than petrol.

Green ac­tivists, led by am­i­cus cu­riae Har­ish N Salve, hold the ex­actly op­po­site view. Delhi cess col­lec­tor SMYR Con­sor­tium joined is­sue claim­ing in­abil­ity to col­lect the amount. All th­ese claims and coun­ter­claims will have to be tested legally and are likely to take sev­eral days of court hear­ings. The CJI is yet to give a firm date for the hear­ing, but is ex­pected to kick in soon.

The other case which will be listed on Satur­day per­tains to deaths in the Nort- heast dur­ing counter-in­sur­gency oper­a­tions by the mil­i­tary.

While the mil­i­tary says that its per­son­nel can­not be tried for mur­der for deaths in ac­tual com­bat sit­u­a­tions, rights acti-


vists and fam­i­lies of vic­tims in­sist oth­er­wise. The country’s high­est law of­fi­cer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mukul Ro­hatgi has stepped in to de­fend the armed forces. Though ar­gu­ments have gone on for days, the hear­ing re­mains in­con­clu­sive as it is be­ing heard by a spe­cial bench. Spe­cial benches are dif­fi­cult to as­sem­ble as it means break­ing up sev­eral divi­sion benches and dis­rupt­ing their work, adding to the back­log of cases.

The CJI, forced by the un­prece­dented stale­mate which has held up judges’ ap­point­ments, is also nudg­ing lawyers in most cases to agree to day-long hear­ings in old cases. The Modi govern­ment is in­sist­ing via an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ce­dure – gov­ern­ing pro­ce­dure of judges’ ap­point­ment – that it should have the fi­nal say on a can­di­date for a judge’s post. The col­legium has re­jected the re­vised mem­o­ran­dum of pro­ce­dure on the grounds that it can­not cede that power on the spe­cious plea of “na­tional se­cu­rity”. If there are any con­cerns on any can­di­date, the govern­ment should send it to the col­legium for tak­ing the fi­nal call, the col­legium has said.

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