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Courts have little belief in the ability of Governments




The separation of powers has the Government handling policy and day to day running of the country, and the Courts have interpretation of laws and the handling of civil and criminal disputes under these laws. So, normally you would not hear of courts getting involved in the matter of process of setting policy, or taking operational matters into their hands and providing directions to Governments. However, in India, the Governments have proved incompetent in so many matters that the courts have thought it fit to intervene using the basis of the rights of quality of life for citizens. Otherwise, who would have thought that a court would give directions to a municipal department to ensure that dengue protection steps are taken:

Delhi High Court on Wednesday ordered the city government’s health department and its civic bodies, MCD and NDMC to take all necessary steps to prevent the recurrence of dengue in the city.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice M K Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Khanna asked the agencies to comply with its previous directions to prevent mosquito breeding. At the same time, it directed the government to provide sufficient platelets in the blood banks in the city so that they are prepared to face any eventuality.

It sounded so strange when I read it; after all, these steps are something that a Government agency should be able to take on its own without having to be told to do so. But the situation is such that every year, one can see so many cases of dengue being reported that could be prevented through simple precautions by the municipal department that they do not do; and hence the court felt it necessary to order such steps. However, it still seems strange, and one can only hope that the Governments wake up.
We have had many cases in the past where court orders have forced Governments to take steps that have helped citizens, such as the implementation of CNG in Delhi and removal of polluting industries from cities (all policy matters but the Government was dragging its feet until the court intervened).




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