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The Supreme Court has slammed the political executive both at the central and the state level for tardy implementation of welfare schemes and raising the bogey of judicial activism when courts intervene and issues directions.

“In last 63 years, parliament and state legislatures have enacted several laws for achieving the goals set out in the preamble (of the constitution) but their implementation has been extremely inadequate and tardy….”

“The benefit of welfare measures enshrined in those legislations has not reached millions of poor, downtrodden and disadvantaged sections of the society and the efforts to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots have not yielded the desired result,” the court said.

The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly said this in their judgment pronounced Monday dismissing an appeal by the Delhi Jal Board challenging a Delhi High Court order.

The high court had directed it to deposit Rs.79,000 with the Delhi High Court Legal Services Committee in addition to Rs.1.71 lakh already paid to the family of sewer cleaner Rajan who died while working.

Speaking for the bench, Justice Singhvi said political arm of the State raises the bogey of judicial over-reach or activism when courts intervene and issue direction for the compliance of welfare laws.

“The most unfortunate part of the scenario” is that whenever judiciary issues direction for the implementation of the welfare statute so that the “right to equality, life and liberty no longer remains illusory for those who suffer from the handicaps of poverty, illiteracy and ignorance” the bogey of judicial activism and judicial over-reach is raised, the court said.

“…a theoretical debate is started by raising the bogey of judicial activism or judicial over-reach and the orders issued for benefit of the weaker sections of the society are invariably subjected to challenge in the higher courts”, the judgment said.

“In large number of cases, the sole object of this litigation is to tire out those who genuinely espouse the cause of the weak and poor.”

Upholding the high court verdict in the instant case, the judgment said: “What the high court has done by entertaining the writ petition and issuing directions for protection of the persons employed to do work relating to sewage operations is part of its obligation to do justice to the disadvantaged and poor sections of the society.”

“We may add that the superior courts will be failing in their constitutional duty if they decline to entertain petitions filed by genuine social groups, NGOs and social workers for espousing the cause of those who are deprived of the basic rights available to every human being, what to say of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.”

Remanding the matter back to the high court for further orders, the judgment said that the appeal by the Delhi Jal Board was also illustrative of how the state apparatus was “insensitive to the safety and well being of those who are, on account of sheer poverty, compelled to work under most unfavourable conditions and regularly face the threat of being deprived of their life”.

While directing the listing of the case before the high court in the third week of September, the apex court enhanced the compensation for the family of Rajan by another Rs.3.29 lakh in addition to the amount already paid to his family.


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