“We do not want politics to shift to the courts,” the Supreme Court observed on Thursday while hearing arguments on whether a political party can file and pursue a public interest litigation (PIL).
“The apprehension is that this will shift politics to the courts. We do not want this. We do not want politics to shift to the courts,” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and NV Ramana said.
The apex court’s observation came after advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO ‘Swaraj Abhiyan’ which has filed a PIL on the plight of farmers in 12 drought-hit states, said if a political party files a petition in public interest, the courts can hear it.
The issue cropped up after Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had told the bench that the NGO has made its intention clear to continue as a wing of a political party, if not a political party itself, and it should not be associated with this PIL.
During the arguments on Thurday, Rohatgi said the application filed by ‘Swaraj India’ before the Election Commission (EC) for registration as a political party was pending.
“They (petitioner) have already formed a political party. I will show what this political party does outside the court,” he said, adding “just because they (Swaraj India) are not yet registered, does not mean they are not a political party”.
“If anyone is using court proceedings for political gain, then there is a political motive,” Rohatgi said.
Bhushan, however, said ‘Swaraj Abhiyan’ and ‘Swaraj India’ were separate entities and the former is not a political party.
“The point is whether the issue raised by a political party raises an issue of public interest. Swaraj Abhiyan has no political interest,” he said, adding “if a political party files a petition which raises an issue of public interest and does not intend to gain any political mileage out of it, the courts should hear it”.
The bench then asked Bhushan, “how can the court separate it in parts, that this is for public interest and this is for interest of the political party?”
Responding to this, Bhushan said every act of a political party, if it is for public interest, should be appreciated and if it is not for public interest, courts can dismiss the plea.