Amidst growing concern over judicial overreach, the Supreme Court on Tuesday spoke in favour of letting the executive devise ways and means of social regulations.
A bench headed by Justice Markandeya Katju said court should not encroach on the executive's field, unless compelled by the law. "In our opinion, the State should not be hampered by the court in dealing with evils at their point of pressure. Since, social problems nowadays are extremely complicated, this inevitably entails special treatment for distinct social phenomena," the bench observed.
The court's order came on a petition filed by wholesale vegetable and fruit vendors from Machkhowa market in Guwahati challenging the Assam government's decision to move them to the city's outskirts. Upholding the government notification, the bench added: "The legislature is free to recognise degrees of harm, and may confine its restrictions to those where the need is deemed to be the clearest."
The bench held public interest should prevail over private interests and dismissed the appeal. It also ruled that wholesale market operators had no fundamental right to carry on their trade in the city as they were causing traffic congestion and public inconvenience.
"The nature of the right alleged to have been infringed, the underlying purpose of the restriction imposed and the extent and urgency of the evil sought to be remedied thereby, disproportion of the imposition, prevailing conditions at the time etc are the relevant considerations for determining whether the restriction is reasonable," the bench added.
It further said: "Ordinarily, everywhere in the world, wholesale markets are situated on the .... outside the city limits.... the shifting of the shops of wholesellers will cause some hardships .... but ... public interest prevails over private interests."