Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Posted at: Jun 10, 2019, 6:54 AM; last updated: Jun 10, 2019, 3:57 PM (IST)BENCH MARK

Wait for the hammer to fall, why the hurry?

Public interest alone must be Admn’s reason for speed
Wait for the hammer  to fall, why the hurry?

By Saurabh Malik

The governments need to wait for the hammer of justice to fall, once a case has been placed on the judicial anvil in matters involving public interest. Or else, seek clarification from the Bench to go ahead, or halt, during pendency in the absence of stay orders.

In no less than two PILs before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Chandigarh Administration displayed undue celerity to implement its decisions, even after the matters were brought under the judicial scanner.

The Administration made public its decision to go ahead with the felling of 700 trees to pave way for a flyover even through the High Court was seized of the matter but had not formally ordered stay. Astounding is the fact that the Administration had itself initially showed disinclination before the HC to axe the trees.

In yet another case, it set June 30 as the deadline for Chandigarh residents to instal solar rooftop systems, even though a PIL is pending before the High Court against the move.

The cases are tied together intrinsically with a common thread – the intention to take advantage of absence of stay for acting in the manner the authorities deem fit in pending cases. Indubitably, stay was not ordered by the court in these cases and the Administration was legally well within its rights to declare its decisions to act. But the courts must ensure that the guiding principle behind the government action is public interest, and not to frustrate the rights of litigants by indulging in the irreversible.

A tree axed is gone forever and installing solar plants would mean a hole in pocket. The governments, in turn, would be well-advised to wait and watch, or explain pressing circumstances impelling it to go ahead.  It should remember that the road it intends to follow may be of no return and may cause irreparable losses.

Law and order: Animal farm

All animals are equal, and none more equal than the other, with the Punjab and Haryana High Court ordering protection of the entire animal kingdom.Animal rights were virtually like an elephant in a room – a problem too big to ignore. Protecting them was like indulging in a wild goose chase, where the goose refused to budge. But the court has made it clear that animals and birds have legal rights, and citizens are their guardian.

It effectively gives teeth to the common man and connotes that even the man on the street has the authority to put down his feet against animal cruelty and move the court for contempt proceedings. The order for the time being is applicable to Haryana, but the authorities in Punjab and Chandigarh, too, need to implement the judgment for preventing animal rights from going to the dogs.


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