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The Supreme Court Tuesday expressed its displeasure with a judgment of the Allahabad High Court that judicial over-reach could invite the wrath of the political class leading to the clipping of judiciary’s powers or even its independence.

The vacation bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice C.K. Prasad observed, “The high court judgment is irrelevant” and that judicial over-reach was happening every day.

A paragraph of the high court judgment said: “The moral of the story is that if the judiciary does not exercise restraint and over-reaches its limits there is bound to be a reaction from the politicians and others”.

“The politicians will step in and curtail the powers, or even the independence, of the judiciary. The judiciary should, therefore, confine itself to its proper sphere, realising that in a democracy many matters and controversies are best resolved in a non-judicial setting.”

Prior to the paragraph, the judgment mentioned different instances the world over, including in the US, where the executive (government) stepped out to clip the wings of judiciary.

Indicating that the apex court could send the matter back to the high court, Justice Singhvi said this was the situation when the Article 19A of the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech was in operation and wondered what would have happened if the constitutional provision was not there.

The high court judgment had rejected the plea of petitioner Kamlesh Kumar Pandey seeking to be absorbed by the Uttar Pradesh government after the re-organisation of the state and carving out of Uttrakhand.

In the united Uttar Pradesh, the petitioner was selected for hill sub cadre. After the re-organisation, a choice was given to the staff and officers to opt which of the two states they wanted to serve.

Justice Singhvi wondered what was wrong in petitioner making a choice. “They have a legitimate right to apply for the change of state,” he said, adding that the staff and officers were called to make an option and the petitioner indicated his preference.

They did not get relief and that was a different matter, he said.

The court would continue hearing the matter Wednesday.


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