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Bombay High Court asks authorities to consider plea seeking awareness on Constitution, RTI, consumer laws

After hearing submissions, the CJ Datta-led bench referred to a foreword written by former Chief Justice of India Yashwant V Chandrachud in a book authored by Justice K K Mathew, which read, “in our present dispensation, a judge cannot, except for honourable exceptions, lay plausible claim of legal scholarship.”

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: January 24, 2021 8:15:08 pm
The court refused to pass any direction noting that it would be ‘judicial overreach and stepping into the domain of other organs of the state’. (File)

The Bombay High Court recently disposed of a PIL filed by a social activist seeking directions to the central government and state education authorities to spread awareness about the Constitution of India, Right to Information (RTI) Act and Consumer Protection Act among people and also seeking to include these laws as compulsory subjects for undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

The court refused to pass any direction noting that it would be ‘judicial overreach and stepping into the domain of other organs of the state’. However, it asked experts in educational field and authorities to consider such demand and decide on the same and asked the social activist to pursue his remedy before such authorities.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Ravindra V Ghuge on January 20 passed the order on the PIL filed by social activist and agriculturist Sanjay Bhaskarrao Kale through advocate Pradnya S Talekar, who told the court that he had time and again made representations to the Governor of Maharashtra, state Higher and Technical Education Department seeking measures for awareness about laws related to ‘public importance,’ requesting to make these laws as compulsory subjects at higher level studies; however, it did not avail any response, hence the PIL. Kale submitted that he had also written to universities in Maharashtra, but no steps were taken on his requests.

The petitioner said that issuance of such directions for public awareness would hold significance in the backdrop of upcoming Republic Day. “The Constitution of India, RTI Act and Consumer Protection Act lay down fundamental rights, fundamental duties and other rights including right to information, right to inspect, right to good services, which are very much essential in day-to-day activities/transactions. Every person living in a democratic India shall know about these laws or rights so as to achieve the goals enumerated in the preamble of the Constitution,” the PIL stated.

The activist also sought directions to the central government to enforce as condition of licence to all cinema halls to exhibit free of cost at least two slides/messages/short film on important rights and duties in each show undertaken by them and also sought such telecasts on TV and radio channels including those run by the government.

After hearing submissions, the CJ Datta-led bench referred to a foreword written by former Chief Justice of India Yashwant V Chandrachud in a book authored by Justice K K Mathew, which read, “in our present dispensation, a judge cannot, except for honourable exceptions, lay plausible claim of legal scholarship.”

In light of this, the bench noted, “We certainly are not exceptions and, therefore, would never dream of claiming legal or any other scholarship. Why we say so is because of the nature of concern expressed in this PIL petition. As Judges, we primarily don the hat of an adjudicator. Having regard to the manifold activities in relation to administrative work that we perforce are bound to discharge, we also don other hats. An attempt is made by the petitioner by presenting this PIL to make us don the hat of an academician too and interfere in academic matters, a field of activity where we have little or no expertise.”

Disposing of the PIL the bench noted, “There could be a judicial overreach and stepping into the domain of the other organs of the State, if we were to entertain the prayers in this PIL petition. We are, therefore, of the considered opinion that the matter must be left to the discretion of the experts in the educational field. The petitioner is granted leave to pursue his remedy before such authorities.”

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