Supreme Court states no sealed cover while instructing centre for giving recommendation in reconstituting CEC
The green bench of the Supreme Court of India has directed a committee to be appointed for monitoring the implementation of its orders and highlighting the incidents of non-compliance, to be reconstituted with younger members.
Keeping this is in mind a division bench comprising Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Vikram Nath asked the solicitor-general and the two amici curiae for proposing the the names of subject-matter experts who could be appointed to the committee.
Addressing the Solicitor-General for India, Justice Gavai asked for giving some names, the Supreme Court judge added but Not in a sealed cover though.
Justice Gavai’s gave this remark in a series of comments made by judges of the top court that highlighted its changing attitude towards the ‘sealed cover’ procedure.
The Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud also made headlines after he refused to accept a confidential note submitted by the central government in a matter relating to the disbursal of pension arrears to retired defence personnel under the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme.
This order was given when the bench was considering an application filed in the T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad case, an omnibus forest protection matter in which the top court issued the longest-standing continuing mandamus in the field of environmental litigation.
A Central Empowered Committee (CEC) in 2002,had constituted committee for monitoring the implementation of the court’s orders and bringing to its attention, incidents of non-compliance.
Senior advocate and amicus curiae ADN Rao urged the bench for reconsidering its earlier order passed in February of this year, allowing a convention centre to be constructed at Patnitop in Jammu and Kashmir after demolishing an existing dilapidated club building belonging to the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation,.
This was done after the light of a CEC report that was filed in March, after this order had already been passed. The committee, the report revealed, was not in favour of the proposed construction in the forested area.
“Is the CEC an appellate authority above a division bench of the Supreme Court?” Justice Gavai asked. The bench also passed a detailed order categorically stating that no ‘valid reasons’ could be discerned to consider the said report by the CEC.
The bench stated in the order :
Once an order has been passed by this court, it is not appropriate for an authority constituted under our orders to give a report which questions the correctness or otherwise, of our orders. An authority which is constituted under an order of this court cannot consider itself to be an appellate authority above this court.
For this Patnitop construction, they did a site visit in May of last year. It cannot be fathomed why the report was delayed by more than nine months. A fact-finding committee cannot operate with most members above 75 or 80 years of age,” amicus curiae K Parameshwar told the bench. The solicitor-general added that on behalf of the central government, I would also urge you to have a relook.”
The bench further informed the counsel that they would consider the recommendations when the matter is taken up for hearing again on Wednesday, April 19.