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Just in case the public forgot

New Delhi, Feb. 21: Nine down and counting…. But if anyone needed a reminder to file a fresh petition against Telangana, it was served by the Supreme Court itself today.

“Now that the Telangana bill has been passed by Parliament, you can file a PIL before us. The time has now come to file a PIL,” Justice H.L. Dattu told an advocate.

The judge, heading a bench that includes Justice S.A. Bobde, was addressing advocate Manohar Lal Sharma who had moved the court against alleged violations by some NGOs.

Sharma was in the court to raise certain technical disputes with the court’s registry over the PIL relating to alleged embezzlement of funds by the NGOs.

But Justice Dattu said: “Mr Sharma, don’t bother about such things. You can focus on other issues.”

The judge followed it up by the advice on Telangana, which drew some laughter in the courtroom.

The same bench headed by Justice Dattu had so far dismissed nine PILs challenging the introduction of the Telangana bill in Parliament.

Courts do not interfere with the introduction or passing of a bill as it is the prerogative of the legislature. But once the bill becomes a law — the Telangana bill has been passed and is awaiting presidential assent to be decreed into law — the courts can look into it.

Justice Dattu is the third senior-most judge in the Supreme Court and is scheduled to become the Chief Justice of India in August this year after the retirement of present Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and his successor Justice R.M. Lodha.

While dismissing the anti-bifurcation petitions, the bench had said: “However, all the issues raised in the writ petition are kept open to be agitated in an appropriate petition at an appropriate stage.”

Not that any reminder was needed from the court. Two persons from Andhra Pradesh today filed a joint PIL, challenging the constitutionality of the bill.

The petitioners, through counsel N. Rajaraman and Satish Galla, said the bill had been passed without amending the Constitution although the special provisions of Article 371D and 371E provide a special package to the Telangana region.

“The recommendation of the Hon’ble President to table the bill before Parliament for approval… is nothing but the verbal abuse of the consultative process,” the PIL said.

Asked later if he would also file a PIL on Telangana, Sharma said he had not thought about it.


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