We Never Stalled High Courts From Proceeding: Supreme Court Expresses Displeasure Over Criticism Against Suo Moto Case On Covid

Suresh Sahni

Suresh Sahni

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It would be in the appositeness if the matter is left at the wisdom of the High Courts itself.

In its anguish and anxiety, the Supreme Court took suo moto cognizance of the issue about the ill management of Covid-19. The issue includes the supply of oxygen, essential drugs, and appropriate Covid management adopted by the ruling dispensation to contain the virus.

The Supreme Court noticed that the issue of Covid-19 is of utmost importance, and it is a National health emergency.

The various High Courts, either on the petitions filed as PILs or in the exercise of suo moto powers, have slammed the various State authorities for their abysmal failure in tackling the burning problem.

collegiumBy exercising the suo moto jurisdiction, the Supreme Court felt in its wiser wisdom that hearing the Covid-19 problems by various High Courts in this diverse country having a population of 1.3 million could confuse. Therefore, to thwart the conflicting rulings, it exercised the jurisdiction, and Mr. Harish Salve was appointed as amicus curiae.

Soon after the order (supra), the Supreme Court Bar Association, various other Bar Association of different High Courts have also come forward with the leading legal luminaries to oppose the Supreme Court’s move.

The critics should not question the Supreme Court regarding the judicial philanthropy exhibited by it beyond a limit.

However, the Supreme Court’s action is a belated one and came into the picture only after the various High Courts played a proactive role in containing the mismanagement of Covid-19 by the powers that may be.

The demonstrative gesture of justice Bhatt that “you may go ahead and present your plan to the High Court. It is not to supersede any order as of now…” is most appropriate and deserves to be applauded; effusively.”

Harish Salve

The appointment of Harish Salve as amicus curiae also engulfed unsavory controversy. Resultantly, he moved the Supreme Court for his discharge as an amicus from the case by stating that “I do not want the matter to be heard under a shadow that I was appointed on the basis of my school friendship with C.J.I.”

The C.J.I. responded by observing that “we understand you are pained by those statements, and we honor your sentiments.” Consequently, Salve’s appointment was revoked.

The powers to be exercised by the Supreme Court under Article 32 of India’s Constitution and by the High Courts under Article 226 are concurrent and complementary. But there is a long line of uninterrupted judicial pronouncements having the force of Article 141 wherein the Supreme Court itself has said that the High Court possesses more expansive powers under Article 226 than the Supreme Court under Article 32.

paramThe Supreme Court lately, while hearing the writ petition of the former Police Commissioner of Mumbai, namely, Param Bir Singh, following the propositions (supra), directed the Petitioner to approach Bombay High Court.

When the Petitioner invoked the jurisdiction of Bombay High Court, it bore unprecedented advantageous results, as it enhanced the confidence of the public in the judicial dispensation.

The Supreme Court observations that the adjudication of the catastrophe of Covid-19 by different High Courts could confuse is far away from the reality surrounding the matter for the following reasons:-

I. The Judges of the High Courts are from the same State in the majority.

II. The total number of judges is divided into 67% from the advocate’s quota, and 33% are elevated from the subordinate judiciary.

III. The judges coming from the advocates quota represent the various districts of the State, being their respective homeland.

IV. The judges coming from the subordinate judiciary have more familiarity with the various State districts, for they are posted during their service career at different places.

V. The judges adorning the seat of High Courts are closely acquainted with the geological topography of the State and the prevailing health infrastructure, both in Government and in private. They are also familiar with the living standard of the inhabitants of the different districts, their economic status, and the allied problems.

The issue pending before the High Courts does not concern the law of Public importance. The same does not require to be adjudicated by the Supreme Court only to quell anticipated conflicting judgments.

The point in issue is whether appropriate Covid response at the end of Executives relating to the health infrastructure, supply of drugs, oxygen, and allied items are religiously followed or not?

All topics vary from State to State, and it would be in the appositeness if the matter is left at the wisdom of the High Courts itself.

Also Read: Beware! You can be charged with sedition if some hacker plants some “incriminating” files on your electronic/digital device.

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Suresh Sahni

Suresh Sahni

Suresh Sahni is a Senior Advocate at Rajasthan High Court.

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