PIL: Not always in the public interest

Updated on Sep 15, 2016 08:53 PM IST

Petitions challenging security provided to Kashmir separatists should not be entertained and the Supreme Court is right in rejecting it

A public interest petition can be filed not to question State policy but when State policy is violated(File Photo)
A public interest petition can be filed not to question State policy but when State policy is violated(File Photo)
Hindustan Times | By

The Supreme Court’s rejection of the PIL (public interest litigation) petition that sought stopping security for the separatists cannot be faulted legally or constitutionally. The apex court has rightly said that security and facilities for separatists is a political decision and not for the courts to take. The court was of the opinion that this is not a judicially manageable proceeding and hence, it did not wish to enter this arena. The larger point made was that of the indiscriminate use of PIL petitions. Such petitions need to serve the interests of the public. In many cases, PIL petitions are filed as obstruction tactics or on utter baseless grounds. Such is the extent of frivolity that’s there in some of such petitions that when Amartya Sen got the Nobel Prize for economics, there was a petition challenging the award because economics was not mentioned in the will of Alfred Nobel, after whom the prize is named. The petitioner was let off with a stern rebuke. In this day and age, when courts are already overburdened with cases, there should be a way to delineate what constitutes public interest and what doesn’t. In the case of the one regarding the separatists, the court refused the petitioner’s premise that funding separatists was akin to spreading unrest in the Valley. While the apex court itself signalled its feeling that the separatists while undermining the writ of the state were not averse to the benefits extended by it, it indicated that it was difficult to arrive at the truth behind the allegations made in the PIL.

Read: Apex court junks plea against Centre funds for J&K separatists

Also, it said that when it came to law and jurisprudence, nobody could be described as a ‘separatist’ on the basis of judicially established principles since there was no law that calls anyone a separatist. And from common knowledge it is known that there are opinion differences among the separatists and all of them cannot be tarred with the same brush. Most importantly, it is the duty of the State to provide security to its citizens and if there is a threat to anybody’s life and property, the first and foremost duty of the government is to step in. This applies to all citizens of the country. Hence any denial of security to the separatists would have meant that the law was keeping them beyond the pale of citizenship. This would have had implicit meanings detrimental to the country’s unity and integrity. Besides, separatist leaders are often put under house arrest, which presupposes being under the watch of security persons. The court’s refusal to entertain this PIL will also serve as a precedent for other such efforts where emotion or mischief rather than merit is behind seeking judicial intervention in an issue.

Read: When security of separatist groups becomes statecraft

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