The Supreme Court’s disapproval of the manner in which the Delhi High Court used its public interest jurisdiction in dealing with matters “exclusively pertaining” to legislative domain has raised questions about judicial interventions in issues affecting the public at large.
Here is a look at some orders. While most of them were result of PILs, in some the court took cognisance on its own considering the gravity of situation.
Demolitions ordered in 2005
When things did not proceed as desired, the court set in motion an innovative mechanism of court commissioners to monitor illegal buildings. Already land worth Rs 9,000 crore has been reclaimed but the MCD and the commissioners are of late on a collision course with the corporation dubbing the court panel as “parallel administration”.
An attempt to bring transparency in nursery admission policy began when two lawyers and a businessman moved court after failing to get their children admitted to Montford in 2002. They said schools followed a “discriminatory” policy and harassed tiny tots by interviewing them. Ganguly Committees recommendations opposed as an “affront on autonomy”. HC asks schools to follow guidelines framed by the government. But schools are not happy and confusion continues.
Crackdown on traffic violations
In December 2006, the court took note of news reports on phenomenal increase in the number of road accidents in Delhi and enhanced fines for all traffic violations.
The court ordered their immediate phase out. At present the Bench is overseeing smooth changeover to a safe and modern alternative transport system.
Menace of stray cattle
Steps were initiated to rid the Capital of stray cattle in 2005. Pecuniary benefits associated with each “catch” ensured that there was initial enthusiasm. But the drive has fizzled out and the bovines are back on road.
Free seats in schools
The court cracked down on schools, which availed land at concessional rates but were not providing free seats to students from economically weaker sections, a condition in the lease deed. It has been four years since the order was made but 200 out of 397 schools are yet to comply.
Free beds in hospitals
Land given to private hospitals by the Delhi government at concessional rates on the lease term that 25 per cent free beds have to be reserved for poor.
Misuse of ambulance service
Government and private hospitals were asked to provide enough ambulances. Doctors and staffers were also warned against misusing these vehicles.
The court almost found a solution to monkey menace by asking the civic authorities to shift monkeys to Bhatti mines. But recent simian attacks raise a question mark whether the steps yielded results.
Burns wards in hospitals
Court took serious view of increasing number of deaths due to burns in the Capital.
Delhi transport department asked why it is lenient with three-wheeler drivers who were repeating offences and sought action against the drivers.