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High courts should desist from treading into the area of policy making, particularly in the field of economic policies, the Supreme Court has said.

“It is well settled that courts should not interfere with the policies of the government in general and economic policies in particular,” the apex court said.

A bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice R.M. Lodha said this while setting aside the interim order of the Rajasthan High Court, which had issued notices to a host of agencies including the central and state governments over newspaper reports that a proposed refinery in Barmer district was being moved out to Gujarat.

The Rajasthan High Court took suo motu cognizance of news reports on this count and directed a public interest litigation (PIL) to be registered.

The interim order also asked the state government to explain “bureaucratic lapses” because of which the refinery project, which could have been a boon for the industrial growth of the backward region, was allowed to slip out of the state. The order was passed Jan 17, 2007.

By another order of March 21, 2007, the high court asked Rajasthan’s finance secretary to submit a status report on the rate of comparative growth achieved in different areas in the last two decades and the projected special economic zones to be set up to bridge imbalance in the economic development in different parts of the State.

Assailing the high court verdict, the apex court said late last month: “We are of the view that the decision of the high court to register a public interest litigation suo motu, to define and regulate the policy of the state in regards to economic developmental activity was not justified.”

Describing the registration of the PIL as “misconceived”, the court said: “It is for the state government to make appropriate economic policies in such matters.”

The court said the documents and particulars sought by March 21, 2007, interim order had nothing to do with the litigation falling under the domain of the PIL.

The apex court said the interim order of March 21, 2007, seeking details of the lack of economic growth or inertia affecting it “was not warranted as these are issues where judicial review is limited to the grounds of arbitrability/malafide”.


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