New Delhi: The central government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that India has variety of major problems and thus the court, while dealing with one issue, should refrain from making adverse remarks against the governance in entirety.
The Centre seems to have hit back after it was reproached multiple times recently by a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur while hearing PILs.
Appearing for the government, Attorney General KK Venugopal made references to the newspaper headlines based on the observations made by this bench, and said that judges may not know every aspect of every problem when they choose to make comments on the government.
“Days after days I have been reading your observations. But a judge may not be knowing all aspects of all the problems," the top law officer told the bench, also comprising Justices SA Nazeer and Deepak Gupta.
The AG pointed out that whenever a PIL on a specific issue comes up before a judge, he can rightly seize the opportunity since it involves violation of certain rights and then pass orders.
“But you must also understand that orders have repercussions. They may have several consequences which could affect rights of some other class. For them, the government has to think,” he added.
Venugopal told the bench that cancellation of 2G licenses by the court virtually wiped out huge foreign investments.
"Similarly, order on removing liquor vends by increasing the distance from highways, caused financial loss. People lost livelihood," he said.
Venugopal said that in his opinion, every order in a PIL should have a separate note as to the effects of such orders on other sectors, effect on budgeting, rights of others who could be affected etc.
"In my opinion, all PILs should be decided in this manner. Every order has to be balanced and thought of. India has multitude of problems. Extent of poverty, illiteracy, lack of awareness are serious issues and the government needs to first look at those who don't even earn Rs 100 a day," said AG.
Venugopal urged upon the bench to refrain from criticising the government every now and then, and also look at the progress being made in various sectors.
"It is not that we have done nothing or we are doing nothing. Not everything is negative," emphasised the AG.
Responding, Justice Lokur said: "Mr Attorney..let us make it clear that we are not criticising the Govt. We are also citizens of this country and we know about the problems. We are only enforcing rights of people. We can't wish away Article 21."
The judge added that many developments have happened only because of the orders of the court.
"You should only ask your officers to follow the laws made by the Parliament," said Justice Lokur.
He further pointed out that the government has been sitting over more than Rs 100,000 crore that was collected as cess pursuant to orders of the court.
But AG retorted: "First of all, this money is nothing in today's budgeting. Second, this money is not to be spent by the central government alone. States also have their share in it. So, Centre can't decide alone."
The bench responded that this money is still good enough for improving the shelter homes, for rehabilitation of widows and also for making prisons better.
Venugopal said that he has conveyed his views to the court about dealing with the PILs and that the bench should consider his submissions without any offence.
The AG was appearing in connection with a PIL relating to overcrowding of prisons and conditions of inmates, in particular women and children.
In this matter, the bench decided to set up one member committee of retired judge of the apex court to recommend measures on prison reform. The committee will be assisted by the government officials and it will file periodical reports before the court.