The question doing the rounds in the legal fraternity on Friday was how a petition seeking an order to send all Muslims to Pakistan reach the bench of Justice Rohintan Nariman and Justice Vineet Saran.
How did the Registry allow this petition in the first place, wondered several lawyers in the Supreme Court. No answer was available and no question was asked by the honourable Justices either.
The petition was of course dismissed. But no cost was imposed on the petitioners. The court did, however, warn that if the petitioner chose to pursue the case, the court would be constrained to pass strictures.
Justice Nariman asked the petitioner’s counsel to read the prayer aloud. “Do you really want to argue this? We will hear you, but we will pass strictures against you.” Justice Nariman declared. The petitioner responded with a “no” and the petition was dismissed, reported Bar & Bench.
Muslims make up 14.2 percent of the population in India and their ancestors had refused to leave at the time of Partition, casting their lot with India.
However, many senior lawyers wondered how such a petition was even entertained in the first place.
“Why did the judges not impose costs?” senior lawyer Indira Jaising tweeted and indignantly asked, “Is the Supreme Court a playground for violating the Constitution? How can anyone dare to say in court Indian Muslims should be sent to Pakistan?”
“The petition was filed by one Sangat Singh Chauhan from Uttarakhand through Advocate on Record CL Sahu on July 23, 2018. Next day, the Supreme Court registry notified to the petitioner about eight defects in the petition. The petitioner cured the defects after five months on January 16, 2019,” The Leaflet reported.
“On March 6, 2019, the PIL was listed in chamber of Justice Hemant Gupta with an application for condonation of delay in re-filing of the petition. The chamber judge allowed the application. Thereafter, petition was processed by the registry for listing before the Court and was placed in the court presided over by Justice Rohinton Nariman.”
People reacted to the report by wondering why far more serious questions of law and petitions on serious national issues were rejected by the Supreme Court Registry while outrageous petitions like this one are put up.
Many wondered whether there was an insidious design to raise such issues even if they are thrown out by the court.
In December last year, Justice SR Sen of the Meghalaya High Court had stirred a controversy after he wrote a judgement that said India should have been declared a “Hindu country”.
“Pakistan declared itself as an Islamic country and India since was divided on the basis of religion should have also been declared as a Hindu country but it remained as a secular country,” the high court judge had observed while disposing of a petition filed by a person who was denied a domicile certificate by the state government.
In February, the Supreme Court began hearing a petition to set aside the judge’s controversial remarks. But despite a specific prayer by petitioners, the Supreme Court refused to reprimand the high court judge.
The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna refused to issue notice on that prayer.