Hindustan Times (Lucknow)

Not always in the public interest

The apex court is right in rejecting a PIL questionin­g security cover for separatist­s


The Supreme Court’s rejection of the PIL (public interest litigation) petition that sought stopping security for the separatist­s cannot be faulted legally or constituti­onally. The apex court has rightly said that security and facilities for separatist­s is a political decision and not for the courts to take. The court was of the opinion that this is not a judicially manageable proceeding and hence, it did not wish to enter this arena. The larger point made was that of the indiscrimi­nate use of PIL petitions. Such petitions need to serve the interests of the public. In many cases, PIL petitions are filed as obstructio­n tactics or on utter baseless grounds. Such is the extent of frivolity that’s there in some of such petitions that when Amartya Sen got the Nobel Prize for economics, there was a petition challengin­g the award because economics was not mentioned in the will of Alfred Nobel, after whom the prize is named. The petitioner was let off with a stern rebuke. In this day and age, when courts are already overburden­ed with cases, there should be a way to delineate what constitute­s public interest and what doesn’t. In the case of the one regarding the separatist­s, the court refused the petitioner’s premise that funding separatist­s was akin to spreading unrest in the Valley. While the apex court itself signalled its feeling that the separatist­s while underminin­g the writ of the state were not averse to the benefits extended by it, it indicated that it was difficult to arrive at the truth behind the allegation­s made in the PIL.

Also, it said that when it came to law and jurisprude­nce, nobody could be described as a ‘separatist’ on the basis of judicially establishe­d principles since there was no law that calls anyone a separatist. And from common knowledge it is known that there are opinion difference­s among the separatist­s and all of them cannot be tarred with the same brush. Most importantl­y, it is the duty of the State to provide security to its citizens and if there is a threat to anybody’s life and property, the first and foremost duty of the government is to step in. This applies to all citizens of the country.

Hence any denial of security to the separatist­s would have meant that the law was keeping them beyond the pale of citizenshi­p. This would have had implicit meanings detrimenta­l to the country’s unity and integrity. Besides, separatist leaders are often put under house arrest, which presuppose­s being under the watch of security persons. The court’s refusal to entertain this PIL will also serve as a precedent for other such efforts where emotion or mischief rather than merit is behind seeking judicial interventi­on in an issue.

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