“Is this the Supreme Court or a joke court,” an incensed apex court bench said on Monday, annoyed over the lack of response of several state governments on crucial matters of public importance like pollution and cleanliness in mid-day meals. “Is some kind of panchayat going on here that the states are not serious? Why are you joking with the Supreme Court like this? You will understand the importance only when we call your Chief Secretaries,” the bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said.
“This is important business,” it said after perusuing the files of the first two PILs listed before it for hearing. “Do we have some kind of a game going on here? If you (lawyers representing states) do not want to file your counter affidavits, then say that, we will record your statements,” the bench added.
The bench, after perusing the reports with regard to service of notices of the PILs to the states concerned, said if they want more time then they should stand and seek it.
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The bench first took up the PIL, filed by Gujarat-based NGO ‘Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti” on industrial pollution in 2012, for hearing and got irked after perusing the records which reflected that many states have not filed their replies despite several opportunities given.
It then called out names of Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh and asked their counsel as to why counter affidavits have not yet been filed.
It granted four weeks to the states which appeared before it for the first time in the matter and summoned the Environment Secretaries with relevant records of these states, which had been served notice but had failed to file replies. It listed the matter for final disposal after four weeks.
The bench then took up the second PIL, filed by NGO ‘Antarashtriya Manav Adhikaar Nigraani’ in 2013, regarding cleanliness in the mid-day meals and seeking directions to prevent incidents like the one that occurred in a government primary school in a Bihar village where 23 children died after eating contaminated food.
When the counsel for the petitioner sought an adjournment saying that the advocate-on-record was out of Delhi and will not be available till January 20, the bench got enraged.
“Is it the Supreme Court or the joke court? This is important business… Who is the arguing counsel? You have made all the states as parties,” it remarked and adjourned the hearing.