Centre Asks SC To Junk PIL On Drought As Swaraj Abhiyan Turns Political Party

Centre Asks SC To Junk PIL On Drought As Swaraj Abhiyan Turns Political Party

The Central government has taken yet another shot at avoiding the 2015 public interest litigation on its dealing with droughts in the country.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the Supreme Court that the case must not be heard anymore since petitioner Swaraj Abhiyan has migrated from being a non-profit to a political party. The Swaraj Abhiyan, in a month, will finish all formalities to register itself as a political party.

“The organisation has already made clear its political ambitions. When the party will be officially registered is irrelevant. It will differ with the government on issues and there is a clear conflict of interest,” he told the court.

In December 2015, the Swaraj Abhiyan, claiming to be a non-political NGO, had moved the Supreme Court asking the court to address the then prevailing drought situation in the country. The same was recorded by the court as follows:

“The petitioner Swaraj Abhiyan has filed this public interest petition under Article 32 of the Constitution. Before taking up the case for final hearing, we put it to learned counsel appearing on behalf of the Swaraj Abhiyan whether the petitioner is a political party. We were informed that it is an unregistered non-government organisation and is not a political party. We put this question to learned counsel for two reasons: firstly, we were of the prima facie opinion that the reliefs sought in the writ petition arising out of drought-like conditions and a declaration of drought in some parts of the country was not a political issue but a matter of grave humanitarian distress and invited concern for the affected persons and animals, particularly livestock. Secondly, we have some prima facie reservations whether a public interest litigation initiated by a political party should at all be entertained. Since we were given an assurance that the Swaraj Abhiyan is not a political party and humanitarian concern was uppermost, we proceeded to hear the petition on merits.”

Justice Madan Lokur and Justice NV Ramana said as of now, there was no doubt on the bonafide of the Swaraj Abhiyan, but agreed to examine the issue on Friday.

“In the long run, we cannot have courts being a battleground for political parties. They should not think that it is easier to fight battles in the court than in Parliament,” Justice Lokur said.

Prashant Bhushan, lawyer for the Swaraj Abhiyan, repeated his earlier request that the court appoint independent commissioners as the court has done in the Right to Food case (PUCL v UOI).

The Centre was also asked to frame model rules that states can follow to implement the National Food Security Act, 2013. States had delayed implementing the Act and the Centre had said that it could not take action on erring states.

The Supreme Court had issued a series of Guidelines [Part-I Part-II Part-III] in Swaraj Abhiyan Case.

This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.