Supreme Court Justice J.S. Khehar Thursday noted the allotment of natural resources has become a political issue and even hit work in two sessions of parliament, but stressed the court should not become part of this “political debate”.
“One is compelled to take judicial notice of the fact that allotment of natural resources is an issue of extensive debate in the country, so much so, that the issue of allocation of such resources had recently resulted in a washout of two sessions of Parliament,” he said in his separate but concurring judgment of a five-judge bench on a presidential reference in the wake of the 2G spectrum verdict.
Noting that the current debate on allotment of material resources has been prompted by a report submitted by the Comptroller and Auditor General, asserting extensive loss in revenue based on inappropriate allocations, Justice Khehar said the report says that private and public sector companies had made windfall gains because the process of competitive bidding was not adopted.
“The country witnessed a similar political spat a little while earlier, based on the allocation of the 2G spectrum,” he said.
Citing the judgment in the case brought as a PIL by Centre for Public Interest Litigation, Justice Khehar said: “Extensive revenue loss, in the course of allocation of the 2G spectrum, was duly noticed. On each occasion when the issue of allocation of natural resources results in an alleged loss of revenue, it is portrayed as a loss to the nation.”
“The issue then becomes a subject matter of considerable debate at all levels of the Indian polity. Loss of one, essentially entails a gain to the other. On each such occasion loss to the nation translates into the identification of private players as the beneficiaries.”
“If one were to accept the allegations appearing in the media, on account of defects in the disposal mechanism, private parties have been beneficiaries to the tune of lakhs of crores of Indian Rupees, just for that reason.”
“In the current debate, rival political parties have made allegations against those responsible, which have been repudiated with counter allegations.”
“This Court is not, and should never be seen to be, a part of that debate. But it does seem that the Presidential reference is aimed at invoking this Court’s advisory jurisdiction to iron out the creases, so that legal and constitutional parameters are correctly understood,” he said.
“This would avoid such controversies in future. It is therefore, that an opinion is also being rendered by me, on the fourth question, namely, ‘What is the permissible scope for interference by courts with policy making by the Government, including methods for disposal of natural resources?’,” he said.
Agreeing with the main opinion, Justice Khehar said: “The mandate contained in the Article extracted above envisages that all material resources ought to be distributed in a manner which would ‘best subserve the common good’.”