Barely a week after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the power of judicial review should not be used to erode the role of the government, a Supreme Court judge said in open court on Friday that no government wanted a stronger judiciary.
"The solicitor general and additional solicitor general would not agree with me that no government wants a powerful judiciary. These are my personal views. Look at the budgetary outlay for the judiciary. It is only 0.25% of the total outlay," said Justice GS Singhvi, wile hearing former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh's petition seeking a direction to quash the orders on the basis of which his telephone was allegedly tapped at the government's behest. The bench includes Justice AK Ganguly.
These comments come at a time when the government and the judiciary are locked in a long-running battle over their respective jurisdictions and the limits of their powers.
A day earlier, on Thursday, hearing a petition on the 2G scam, the Supreme Court had pulled up the government for its alleged reluctance to go after the "big fish" who had benefited from the scandal.
It had also, in a show of displeasure, directed the Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate to show it a copy of the charge sheet into the 2G scam before it was filed.
Last Saturday, Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia had said a constitutional courts' power of judicial review was a guarantee against arbitrariness in executive actions. "People can ill afford to forget that this power is the only peaceful device available to control a government, which has an innate tendency to arbitrariness," he had said, quoting noted jurist DD Basu.
But on Friday, the court was also in a reflective mood. "We, in the judiciary, give lectures but there is no speedy disposal of cases. It's better not to give sermons, but, to introspect on ourselves," it said.