"Even God will not be able to save this country," a fuming Supreme Court on Tuesday said while slamming the Government for its refusal to amend the law for launching criminal prosecution against those who illegally occupy official houses.
"We are fed up with this Government," the apex court said, adding "They don't have the guts to differ with the opinion of the clerks."
"Even God will not be able to save this country. In India even if God comes down he cannot change our country. Our country's character has gone. We are helpless," a bench of Justices B N Aggrawal and G S Singhvi observed.
The apex court said PILs are being filed before it by people who are vexed with the approach of the Government on various issues.
"You complain about judicial activism when you are in power. When You are not in power you come to us for remedy," the bench remarked.
The bench gave vent to its anger as the Additional Solicitor General Amarender Saran bluntly told the court that the Union Government has decided not to amend Section 441 IPC (criminal trespass) for prosecuting squatters of Government accommodation in the country.
The Government took the stance that the existing provisions provided under the Public Premises Act was sufficient to evict those unauthorisedly occupying Government accommodation. Moreover, it claimed that out of 99,100 government houses only 300-odd dwellings were under unauthorised occupation for which had been made to evict them.
But this did not satisfy the apex court which said the Government does not have the guts to take on the offenders.
While saying that "they" did not have the guts to differ with the opinion of the clerks, the apex court's apparent reference was to the reluctance of the officials to amend the Act as directed by the apex court during the earlier hearings.
Under the existing PPE Act, the Government can at best collect only compounding fees besides initiating civil proceedings in an appropriate court for their eviction.
But since, according to the apex court, the existing Act had proved ineffective it had asked the Centre and the States to amend Section 441 IPC to make the offence non-bailable and ensure that the offenders were jailed.
However, despite the directions neither the Centre nor most of the States evinced any interest in the apex court's directive.
States like Haryana, Nagaland, Mizoram, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Maharshtra had expressed their willingness. Only UP and Orissa had amended the Act to invoke it against such squatters.
Other states had either not filed their response or shown a disinclination in amending the Act. Whereas, the Centre had taken a categorical stance that it would not amend the Act, drawing the ire of the court.