NEW DELHI: With nearly 60,000 cases pending in the Supreme Court, Chief Justice J S Kheharfirmly put in place a queue system for justice dispensation on Friday by summarily rejecting requests for out of turn hearing of petitions and implementing his threat to impose cost on busy bodies.
Heading a two-judge bench, Justice Khehar took exception to advocates mentioning land acquisition, pension arrears and service related disputes for early hearing. He said: "There are so many persons in jail. They are questioning the violation of their civil liberties.
That is more important than these land acquisition and pension arrear cases. It hurts us when advocates mention these issues for early hearing.
Should we push back civil liberty matters to give these cases out of turn hearing?" "Everyone must come in queue. People have faith in this court because they expect equity from us. If the Supreme Court fails to adhere to the principle of equity and equality, what will happen? We cannot fail the people's legitimate expectations," the CJI said turning down majority of the requests for early hearing but keeping eyes and ears open for those matters which required the SC's urgent intervention.
Taking a look at the long queue of advocates that builds up everyday before the CJI's bench to push for an early hearing of their cases, Justice Khehar said: "There is a feeling that most of the matters, except fundamental rights and Constitutional questions, should attain finality with the decision of the high courts. You (the advocates) must feel happy that the Supreme Court is agreeing to hear these small issues despite having a heavy load of important matters."
The bench was hearing a case in which an NGO had petitioned for cancellation of 'forest' land allotted for setting up a medical college in Madhya Pradesh saying it would be detrimental to ecology and environment. But the CJI-headed bench found that the NGO had not complained when the land was allotted, when the land use was changed and during the course of construction of the Rs 130 crore medical college with 750 beds.
"It is not a small house construction that it could have escaped your attention. You had been involved in this issue.
Why did you choose to challenge the land allotment after the hospital was fully constructed.
We will impose cost on a busy body like you," the bench said and saddled 'Parishram Samaj Evam Kalyan Samiti' with a cost of Rs 25,000. The last case before the court was a petition by USbased Dr Kunal Shah, who lost his wife in 1998 in Kolkata due to medical negligence. Shah had won a record compensation from the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission
against the hospital and the negligent doctors.
But he continued to pursue the case for cancellation of practice licence of those doctors.
Justice Khehar told Shah to be at peace. "There are several wrongs that happen in life and court cannot right certain wrongs. Your wife died 19 years ago. Let her soul rest in peace. The doctors and the hospital have been punished as you won record compensation. You are pursuing the litigation because you are not at peace," he said and refused to entertain his petition.