Between judicial activism and over-reach
SIR, ~ I have rarely read such a balanced assessment of judicial activism as advanced by the Advocate-General of West Bengal in his two-part article in your paper (31 May and 1 June). More often than not, the executive is in the habit of blaming the judiciary for usurping its powers. So does the legislature. The article enunciates very rightly that while judicial activism is a boon, judicial over-activism is a bane. Mr Bimal Chatterjee has upheld the basic theme of judicial activism unless it goes awry.
Judicial activism, in my opinion, has seldom gone over board. First, the court examines whether the Public Interest Litigation is a Private Interest Litigation. If it is the latter, it is rejected in limine. There are many such cases which are reported in legal journals, though not in newspapers. I know for certain that in tax matters, many petitions challenging the fiscal policy have not been entertained by the Court. It was only in the case of the Indian Express group of newspapers and others vs the Union of India in the mid-Eighties that the Supreme Court intervened against the government&’s decision to increase the duty on newsprint. The newspaper management&’s argument was accepted by the Supreme Court ~ if newsprint becomes costly, the cover-price of the newspaper will also rise. This will infringe on the fundamental right of freedom of speech. The principle, laid down by the Supreme Court, was that unless executive or legislative action were malafide and whimsical to the extent that there was an infringement of any fundamental right, the Court will not intervene. And the Court does not do so. Even in the famous Balco judgment, the court did not intervene.
The people are not always aware of the cases in which the court does not intervene. This leads to the misconception that the judiciary interferes in the affairs of the executive and the legislature. The Supreme Court&’s intervention on the linking of rivers might have been one example of over-activism. But the court did not press beyond a point when the impracticability was pointed out.
yours, etc., sukumar mukhopadhyay, (former member, central board of excise and customs), new delhi, 3 june.
Minister sized up
SIR, ~ Allow me to thank you profusely for the editorial, “Mira scores” (12 May). It seems that your pen is dipped in gall. You have correctly touched upon certain valid points which appear to be in conformity with facts, reason and logic. You have objectively assessed the panchayat minister, Subrata Mukherjee. There can be no two opinions about the fact that his politics is determined by the scope for personal gain. This is the reason why he tends to switch allegiance. You have been bold enough to state that “Mamata Banerjee must now realise that such elements ~ as chameleonic as disruptive ~ can only manage to make the waters murkier”. Mr Mukherjee has been trying to throw his weight around vis-a-vis the State Election Commission. Regretully, even the court verdict has had no tangible effect on the panchayat minister. The state government wouldn’t have complicated matters if the Saradha scam did not point to the involvement of a section of the Trinamul Congress. One can hear the clamour for change exactly two years after the parabartan.
yours, etc., dhrubjyoti majumder, kolkata, 12 may.
Another pet poodle
SIR, ~ Your bold and candid editorial, “CAG not a lap-dog” (22 May) reminds me of the criticism of the CBI that it functions as a pet poodle of the political masters. On a parity of reasoning, the CAG is not merely a lap-dog, but a pet. Otherwise, Mr Shashi Kant Sharma would not have been able to grab the sensitive constitutional post, whose duty is to monitor the irregularities in government spending. As Director-General (Acquisition) of the Defence ministry, he had allowed the cost of the Russian aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, to escalate. He had audited defence procurements during 2003-2010 even while holding the post of Defence Secretary. Mr Sharma is beholden to the UPA government and the interest of the Congress will be uppermost in his agenda as CAG.
yours, etc., baniprasanna datta, 22 may, kolkata.
SIR, ~ The recent Chinese intrusion into Indian territory at Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) was a brazen instance of transgression of the law that determines boundaries. Yet China&’s astute diplomacy was evident during Premier Li Keqiang&’s recent visit to India. He was able to convey the impression that China did not want to lose a vast business market in India. Even multinational giants in Europe and America are keen on tapping this market. Mr Li also expressed his eagerness to defuse the border tension. His visit to India was not intended to strengthen the peace process, but to tap the business sector. Indeed, he played a successful double-game.
yours, etc., achyut mukherjee, howrah, 30 may.
Kolkata to Chhattisgarh
SIR, ~ A Union cabinet minister has reportedly attributed the recent Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh to the “excesses” committed by the Salwa Judum. It that is so, one wonders what was responsible for the emergence and escalation of the Left radical movement in West Bengal in 1967. In Kolkata, innocent people were attacked with Molotov cocktails. The actual reason is that the radical ideology preaches violence ~ “Political power emerges from the barrel of the gun”.
yours, etc., arun malankar, mumbai, 30 may.