Index :
1. Saladanha’s Orders Quashed : Asian Age : dt. 15-03-2000

2. High Court bench quashes 56 PIL directives by single judge : TNTE dt. 15-3-2000 (p 5)

Saldanha’s Orders Quashed
‘Instead of alarm clock he acted as time-keeper’

(Asian Age:   Dated: 15-3-2000)

Bangalore, March 14 : A five judge bench of the High Court on Tuesday struck down 56 interim orders passed by Justice M.F Saldanha since September 1997 on the ground that they were passed without jurisdiction.

In a 130-page verdict, Chief Justice Y. Bhaskat Rao, Justice Ashok Bhan, Justice R.V Raveendra, Justice A.M Farooq and Justice Chandrasekhariah, who constituted the bench, unanimously ruled that all orders passed by Justice Saldanaha after former Chief Justice R.P Sethi passed a notification in July 1997 making it mandatory for all public interest litigation to be heard by a division bench consisting of two judges, were without jurisdiction.

Tuseday’s verdict which upheld the validity of the notification, however makes it clear that any action that has already been taken or any proposed action pursuant to Justice Saldanha’s directions shall not be disturbed.

The judgement records that when it comes to judicial functioning in public interest litigation’s, the end may sometimes not justify the means. While the court was sure that Justice Saldanha acted with the Best of intentions, it observed that he, instead of "functioning as an alarm clock, functioned as a time keeper".

The bench also noted that positive results could be seen in many areas after Justice Saldanha’s directions to various authorities. However, the bench also ruled that these orders which were interim orders were beyond the main prayer of petitioners and were liable to be quashed.

Some of the important directions of Justice Saldanha that were struck down include a series of orders pertaining to Cubbon Park. The bench has considered Justice Saldanha’s orders to the horticultural dept. regarding the imposition of any entry fee to the park, and loiter in the park’s premises after 8 pm.

Justice Saldanha’s order asking the transport dept. to convert all autorickshaws to LPG, illegal dumping of construction debris, burning of garbage and medical waste, directions to the electricity board not to fell tress and orders pertaining to the repairs of roads were also declared to be orders passed beyond his Judicial limits.

High Court bench quashes 56 PIL directives by single judge

Times of India , Dated: 15-3-2000 (Page- 5)

Bangalore March 14: A five-judge special judge of Karnataka HC, had recently deliberated on whether a single-judge bench was competent enough to hear Public Interest Litigation (PIL) or whether it ought to be heard only by a division bench.

This follow a circular from the Chief Justice to all judges that PILs be necessarily posted before a division bench.

The five-judge-bench upheld the validity of the notification.

The special bench, comprising Chief Justice Y. Bhaskat Rao, Justice Ashok Bhan, Justice R.V Raveendra, Justice A.M Farooq and Justice Chandrasekhariah , while delivering the judgment on Tuesday, held that the distribution of cases in the HC was prerogative of the Chief Justice.

The bench also set aside 56 directions passed by a single-judge bench of the HC, chaired by Justice M.F Saldhana, which were passed after the notification was issued by the apex court on July 8, 1997.

Noting that these directions were passed without jurisdiction, the bench ruled that any action already taken based on these 56 directions shall not be disturbed.

Action initiated based on these directions could be completed, the bench noted.

The bench has dismissed two WPs filed by B Krishna Bhat and also dismissed a PIL by Prof A Lakshmisagar, seeking to quash all orders passed by Justice Saldhana. The bench also dismissed a contempt of court petition filed against Prof Lakshmisagar.

OBSERVATIONS: The special bench also made several observations while setting aside the directions passed by Justice Saldhana.

The bench observed that there were no pleading made in any of the 56 cases and the single-judge bench had taken cognisance of grievances brought to his notice through letters, press reports to by self-knowledge.

The order was not in violation to any public or private right by any authority. Further, budgetary and financial constraints were ignored. On other hand, particular remedy suggested by the counsel of judge were discussed and orders were passed.

"Proceeding were more like a public hearing or grievances by a Minister and the orders were sometimes in the nature of expression of opinion by an arbitrator – sometimes by a conciliator and sometimes like a judicial order," the bench noted.

The bench also noted that courts were ill-equipped to consider and decide several complicated issues and assess the social needs and economic constraints. The traditional role of a court is to examine the decision-making process. "But the single-judge not only pointed out inaction, but also suggested remedial measures and supervised its implementation." The bench observed..

"Instead of working as an alarm clock, he worked as a time-keeper. He has entered into forbidden fieled of policy-making and implementing which are the fields of Legislature and Executive. The 56 directions passed can’t be sustained and continued," the bench noted.

Ruling on the Chief Justice’s notification, the bench observed that the Chief Justice’s decision was not open for challenges and PILs were included in special category cases.

The present controversy had begun in 1997, when the then Chief Justice R P Sethi issued directives asking that PILs be heard by only a division bench.

This notification was, however, challenged by some individuals. This was dismissed by the HC.

Meanwhile, Prof A Lakshmisagar had filed a petitions, seeking to quash all the directives passed by the single-judge bench, chaired by Justice M.F Salshana. A contempt of Court petition was filed against Prof. A Lakshmisagar, Justice M F Saldhana sent two references to the Chief Justice seeking a ruling by the full bench on this issue.