PIL not a governance tool: Minister

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that while public interest litigation (PIL) for securing the rights of the poor, the workers and against corrupt public servants were to be supported, governance through such petitions should not be done.

Responding to a query during Question Hour on the pendency of cases in various courts of law, Mr. Prasad was asked by Laxmi Narayan Yadav, BJP MP from Sagar, whether an increase in number of PIL petitions had contributed to the same. Mr. Prasad owned up to filing several such petitions himself in cases challenging corrupt practices of politicians, but said “with great humility” that it was not the job of the courts to govern the country through them.

Parliamentary power

“Only those voted in by the people and who are accountable to Parliament have the right to govern and frame laws for the country. The High Courts and the Supreme Court do not have that right. This has been clearly stated in our Constitution,” he said.

Mr. Prasad said more than 5,000 posts in the lower judiciary were lying vacant and the Central government was giving emphasis on filling the posts with fair representation from the SCs, STs, OBCs and minorities so that they could occupy posts in the higher judiciary.

Based on the reports submitted by the arrears committee of various High Courts, it was resolved that they would assign top priority to disposal of cases pending for more than five years and priority should be given for disposal of cases pending in the district courts for more than five years. Replying to a question about the transfer of a judge, who was hearing cases related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Law Minister said the government could not interfere in a decision taken by the Supreme Court collegium. However, he said, he will try to ensure that all anti-Sikh riot cases are expedited so that victims get justice.

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