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SC Bench declines to hear pending PIL
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 11
As an immediate fallout of yesterday’s unprecedented verdict by a Division Bench of the Supreme Court questioning the orders of its larger Benches on composite floor test in the UP and Jharkhand Assembly cases, another two Bench of two judges today refused to hear a PIL seeking a clarification, from the CJI, whether they had power to hear it.

Yesterday’s verdict by Justices A K Mathur and Markandey Katju, has virtually brought to the fore the sharp division among apex court judges on the issue with today’s development

A Division Bench of Justices S B Sinha and Harjit Singh Bedi today declined to hear a PIL, by an NGO Prajwala, on the plight of sex workers, though it has been pending since 2004.

The matter was referred to the Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan for placing it before a larger Bench. While dictating a short order for referring the PIL to the larger Bench, Justice Sinha observed that first the question “whether this matter falls under the jurisdiction of this court (their Bench)” had to be looked into.

Apparently, the Bench withheld the hearing on the PIL in view of yesterday’s verdict as both stood on the same footing in jurisdictional terms. In yesterday’s order Justices Mathur and Katju had disapproved judicial intervention in matters falling under the executive and the legislature.

However, their verdict has not gone down well with the legal fraternity and several senior lawyers have questioned their findings.

A three-judge Bench headed by the then Chief Justice V. N. Khare with Justice Sinha and Justice S. H. Kapadia being the other two judges had admitted the PIL of Prajwala in 2004.

The apex court had taken cognizance of the PIL after the NGO had brought to its notice the plight of sex workers and trafficking of women and children forcing them into sex trade.

The NGO had placed data before the court stating that over 23 lakh women and children were annually forced into sex trade and children constituted more than 25 per cent of it.

Besides, questioning the constitutional validity of the apex court’s larger Benches’ interim orders on composite floor tests in the UP and Jharkhand Assembly cases in 1998 and 2005 respectively, Justices Mathur and Katju had cited cases from the High Courts of Punjab and Haryana and Delhi.

It had questioned Delhi High Court’s intervention in at least 15 cases brought before it in the form of PILs on various issues concerning children’s education, pollution, erratic bus service, rising accidents by blue line buses and others.

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