The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a PIL that sought an immediate stop to the grant of monetary aid and other facilities by the government to separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir. It also took exception to terming them as separatists, saying they cannot be “described as a class” unless they are “convicted or formally charged”.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Uday U Lalit described the PIL as “judicially unmanageable”, as it said the grant of funds for security or otherwise “is within the exclusive domain of the central government” and “the court should refrain from entering into the said area.”
In contrast, on September 8, when advocate-petitioner M L Sharma sought directions to the government to stop spending tax payers’ money on the separatists’ security, travel and hotel stays, another bench led by Justice Anil R Dave had observed: “We also share the same feeling. everybody sitting here feels the same.”
The bench headed by Justice Misra, however, said: “Have they (Centre and state) said that they are providing funds to separatists? You are making tall claims that it is being given to a certain class of people but have these people been proved to be separatists on judicially known principles? If there is a threat perception, the government may give security to certain people but the conduct of such people may not be to the liking of others. But we are not concerned with names. Unless somebody is convicted or formally charged, you cannot describe them as a class.”
“It is the duty of the central government to see that the unity and integrity of the nation is kept intact. They have a vital role in this and we think they are doing what they can. Everybody in this country must understand that who shall be provided security or not is within the domain of the executive. Such issues are beyond judicial scrutiny,” it said.
Stating that it has “minimum role” in such matters, the bench said: “These are nationally sensitive issues since they belong to the arena of the security of the nation. It should be left to the executive to judge what is best for the nation in such matters. These writs are judicially unmanageable. We will not encourage this kind of petition.”
In his PIL, Sharma had cited various media reports on grant of funds to separatists for travel, accommodation, logistics and other purposes. He sought a declaration that this was “unconstitutional and illegal”, and that it must be stopped at once because the government cannot be allowed to provide funds to those who act against the interest of the nation.
“In fact, just over the last five years, India has spent Rs 356 crore on these separatists’ security, travel and hotel stays. The government has also spent Rs 21 crore on putting up these separatists in luxury hotels and Rs 26.43 crore on fuel for them to travel around and spread their anti-India venom,” said the petition.
The PIL claimed this expenditure was levied on taxpayers without informing Parliament, and added that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) did not adduce audit reports on how these funds were spent.