Amid the raging controversy over a Supreme Court judgment denouncing judicial 'overreach', a three-judge bench, headed by the Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan, on Friday said it would lay down guidelines on entertaining public interest litigations (PILs).
The decision of the CJI's bench to lay down parameters for entertaining PILs is expected to clear the confusion that gripped the judiciary since a bench of Justices AK Mathur and Markandey Katju delivered a verdict with strong observations against judicial activism.
Hearing a PIL referred to it by a two-judge-bench headed by Justice SB Sinha, the CJI's bench said: "It is better to have some guidelines."
The CJI, who had on Thursday remarked that the controversial judgment was not binding, said: "We will consider the question which is referred to us…It is better to have some guidelines as to whether these types of PILs can be entertained."
The CJI was responding to the submissions of advocate Aparna Bhatt, counsel for petitioner Prajwala, who told the court that Justice Sinha's bench wanted a larger bench to consider the scope of PIL jurisdiction of the court after the judgment against judicial activism.
The controversial judgment had warned judges against judicial 'overreach', saying it can lead to politicians attempting to curtail the judiciary's independence.
The bench has fixed February 23, 2008, to hear the case, when it can either consider the issue of PIL jurisdiction itself or refer the matter to a Constitution bench as demanded by noted jurists like Ram Jethmalani and Shanti Bhushan.
However, senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said enough guidelines existed on PILs and further ones could be developed on a case-to-case basis. He perceived the CJI's disagreement with Justices Mathur and Katju's observations as an affirmation of the jurisprudence of human rights and social justice developed over the past 30 years.
The verdict against judicial 'overreach' led to confusion among judges. Justice Sinha's bench referred the PIL filed by Prajwala regarding the rehabilitation of trafficked children and women to a larger bench while some judges of the Delhi High Court refused to hear PILs.