The Supreme Court has with clarity laid down the fact that it is the executive’s function to lay down policies within its constitutional mandate and courts can interfere only if it runs foul of such a mandate or is malafide.
The Supreme Court has made clear that with regards to distribution of natural resources, it is for the executive to decide the best manner of doing so, and courts shall not interfere unless the policy is in violation of statutory law, or is against the provisions of the constitution of India. It is not within the scope of judicial review for a court to suggest an alternative policy.
It is now settled that the Supreme Court will also not go into the question of whether one manner of allocation of natural resources is better or wiser than the other proposed method.
The country’s top court has left no doubt whatsoever that it was not at all interested in examining the correctness or otherwise of the February 2 judgment delivered by a two-judge bench of the same court on the 2G spectrum allocation issue.
Another major implication of Thursday’s opinion by the court in response to the reference sought by the President on eight questions, of which five were answered and three declined, is that there is no direction on whether auction should be the sole method for allocation of natural resources.
The Supreme Court has clarified that instead of prescribing or proscribing any particular method, a judicial scrutiny of methods of disposal of natural resources should depend on the facts and circumstances of each case.
A lot of curiosity is there on whether the top court’s response to the Presidential reference will have any bearing on the ongoing controversy related to the allocation of coal blocks, particularly after the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) was tabled in parliament, during the recently concluded monsoon session.
In my view, there appears to be no immediate bearing as of yet, unless it can be shown that there was any malafide action in the entire exercise or misuse of the discretionary powers by government official and ministers. It is still being probed.
- As told to HT by Sundaram, a senior Supreme Court advocate. He had appeared for FICCI in the presidential reference matter decided by the apex court on Thursday.