A timely act or omission of the sovereign can impact the handling of a crisis either way. The ongoing pandemic has put many experienced brains to work, including many experts in the judicial field who are exploring the effect of the pandemic on the society at large.
In the current situation, the problem of migrant workers has shaken the conscience of the society and questions have been raised about the role of the governments—State as well as Central.
Amid debates over rights of workers and duties of the State, many meaningful public interest litigations have been filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. Those petitions were heard by the Court and several orders were passed to achieve the constitutional mandate of protection of fundamental rights of migrant workers.
Not only in depressed social surroundings, but even in a thriving society, the need to handle public interests and their examination by the judicial process is incumbent due to the progression and altering circumstances.
While doing so judiciary is bound to encounter various such peculiar circumstances that may not be encircled in their achieved expertise and rich experience. The decisions of the courts / judicial forums in all such circumstances may not satisfy the concerned litigants or/and society at large and decisions of the courts are open for discussions and criticism. The discussions and criticism of judicial pronouncements become more aggressive if it relates to the society at large and public interests.
Researchers, while examining the proceedings related to migrant workers’ issues before the Supreme Court, came up with divergent views on the orders passed by the Court and actions of the executive are also questioned.Various opinions and articles came in public domain with suggestions and criticism of decisions of the executive and judiciary as well.
Justice Madan Lokur, former Judge of Supreme Court opined in the public domain : “Over the past few months, constitutional rights and remedies were overlooked and socio-economic justice, a cornerstone in the preamble of our constitution, was disregarded. Some eminent members of the legal fraternity have already expressed dissatisfaction with the present-day functioning of the Supreme Court. Isn’t that tragic or is it farcical?”
He raised the questions of importance by stating “It is not that the court was expected to disbelieve or distrust the establishment represented by no less than the solicitor general, the court was only required to ensure through the principle of continuing mandamus that the solemn assurances given to it are faithfully carried out. Sorry, the court completely failed in this – forgot what public interest litigation is all about. If a grading is to be given, it deserves an F.”
Thought process and opinion based on acquired knowledge, even if not aligned with other views, of a retired Supreme Court Judge ought not be ignored only because he is no more holding a position of delivering judgments.
It must be noted that opinion(s) is/ are guided towards a larger good and may give some ways to comfort the public at large or class of people whose fundamental rights are adversely affected.
Later prominent Jurist Mr. Harish Salve came up with his opinion “Some people are pushing the boundaries by saying Supreme Court deserves ‘F’ grade for its handling of migrants. I have been reading these articles. They are wrong, Salve said. Mr. Salve’s opinion must be based on his logical reasons, if in his opinion the articles are wrong, his reasons for having such opinion become relevant for recognizing the right ways.
Similarly, well-meaning experts have worked over the issues of the plight of migratory workers and their fundamental rights, their opinions are based on research resulting in knowledge depositories. Their opinions are highlighting problems and suggesting ways of its solutions.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan took a stand before the Supreme Court that the fundamental rights of the migrants were being violated. Reference can also be made to the several works done by noted Lawyers, Social workers, and researchers in this context. E.g. Mr. Harsh Mander, Ms. Indira Jaisingh, Mr. Jagdeep S. Chokkar, and many more.
A group of senior lawyers wrote a letter to Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde and other justices of the Supreme Court, urging the court to intervene. Such expertise and result thereof is on records now.
Knowledge management for larger good is the need of the hour, instead of taking an adversarial method, Governments from the beginning of any issue, ought to opt solutions to attain public good by harmonising the opinions of well-meaning experts at the very initial stage, not only at the behest of the Courts.
Apparently the best brains of our country based on their expertise, knowledge, and experience have their divergent opinions, however, working towards the public good. Such accumulated knowledge and experience unless put timely into effective use, shall be wasted.
The governments ought to have an effective method to make immediate use of such resources, however not only in the need of any catastrophe be applied rather as a national resource be readily available in real time; to provide support and answers.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi “It is knowledge that ultimately gives salvation.”
Such knowledge depositories, which our country possesses, ought to be utilised as the foundation for future administration and tools to cope with any uncalled-for calamities and for progress. If timely use of knowledge is not transformed in actions to address the prevalent issues for achieving the public good, such knowledge and experience; the public resources are wasted.