NEW DELHI: "Our Constitution does not envisage courts to be silent spectators when constitutional rights of citizens are infringed by executive policies," the Supreme Court said in response to the Centre’s argument that the judiciary did not have to interfere with policy decisions made by the executive.
Coming down heavily on the Centre, which had argued that ‘no interference from judicial proceedings is called for when the executive is operating on expert medical and scientific opinion’, the court said: “Judicial review and soliciting constitutional justification for policies formulated by the executive is an essential function, which the courts are entrusted to perform.”
Quoting from an observation made by the Supreme Court of United States of America “But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten and a public health emergency does not give Governors and other public officials carte blanche to disregard the Constitution for as long as the medical problem persists” the bench said courts across the globe have often reiterated the expertise of the executive in managing a health crisis, but have also warned against arbitrary and irrational policies.
Saying that the intention of the court was not to second-guess the wisdom of the executive, the bench said: “However, it continues to exercise jurisdiction to determine if the chosen policy measure conforms to the standards of reasonableness, militates against manifest arbitrariness and protects the right to life of all persons.”
The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhatt also questioned the Central government’s dual-price policy and procurement policy of Covid-19 vaccines.