SC rebukes Centre over absentee ASG

SC rebukes Centre over absentee ASG

SC rebukes Centre over absentee ASG

The Supreme Court on Thursday pulled up the Centre for failing to field a law officer for the hearing on a PIL seeking release of funds to drought-hit states.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and N V Ramana expressed their displeasure after a junior counsel sought time for presence of Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, appearing for the Union government. He submitted that the law officer was busy before a Constitution bench.

“Show some seriousness...are we useless,” the furious bench asked. “Is this like cattle or something? Go here, go there. This is not your priority. Two judges are sitting here. You expect us to do nothing and just keep looking at the watch waiting for time to pass,” the bench further said, forcing the law officer to turn up.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Swaraj Abhiyan, said the law officer was just sitting over there and was not on her legs. The court also noted there were so many law officers of the Union government but no one was present, showing “lack of seriousness on the issue”. 

During the day-long hearing, the court also criticised states of Haryana and Gujarat for fielding junior counsel to make submission in the matter concerning grant of immediate relief and implementing the MNREGA and Food Security Act for the people suffering from drought.

“Is this the kind of seriousness you show as your people are dying of drought? This hearing is not about some picnic you are having in Haryana,” Justice Lokur lashed out at the state counsel. When the counsel apologised, the bench said, “You are sorry? You should be sorry for your people. They will die”. It also questioned Haryana for passing on figures about canal construction which took place in 2013-14 and agricultural yield from 2014-15 when the court wanted the latest rainfall data in the state.

“What are we supposed to do with all this? Where are the rainfall figures? Are these papers something you randomly found in your office and filed here. In all districts, rainfall is in the minus... that means there was no rainfall in Haryana,” the bench observed, asking why the state was in no hurry to declare drought. 

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