New Delhi, November 13: The Supreme Court has said it wished to discourage petitions under Article 32 in the court and said citizens should instead approach high courts for appropriate relief under Article 226. The Constitution empowers citizens to move the top court for enforcement of Fundamental Rights under Article 32. BR Ambedkar had dubbed the Article as the soul of the Constitution.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said the court was trying to discourage Article 32 petitions from being filed in the top court in at least two cases which came up on Monday. One was the case of Kerala journalist Siddiqui Kappan arrested by the Uttar Pradesh while he was on his way to cover the Hathras incident and the other involved a Shameet Thakker from Maharashtra, The Economic Times reported.
In Kappan’s case, CJI Bobde said: “We want to discourage Article 32 petitions. Why can’t you go to the high court? High courts can enforce your Fundamental Rights as well,” the CJI told Kappan’s counsel Kapil Sibal who contended that the journalist has been in jail for 42 days. “How can we approach the high court when we can’t even meet the person?” Kappan is in Mathura jail, he told the court. “This is about a journalist who continues to be in jail.”
Sibal said it was exceptional circumstances and drew the court’s attention to the fact that it had stepped in such similar circumstances to ensure that personal liberty of citizens was not affected. The bench eventually issued notices to the Uttar Pradesh government on Kappan’s plea for release on bail and listed the case for hearing on Friday. UP Police has accused Kappan of having links with the Popular Front of India and has slapped UAPA against him.
Another similar Article 32 plea was filed by Maharashtra resident Shameet Thakker, arrested in connection with three FIRs filed against him over his tweets against the Thackerays. Thakker’s case was argued in court by senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani who claimed that multiple FIRs were filed against him in connection with his tweets. He was arrested although all offences were bailable, he said, His plea was pending before the high court. He also accused the Maharashtra government of parading his client in an inhuman manner after arrest. The CJI though stuck to his position.
“Why do you think we approve of all this? We do not approve all this. But why can’t you move the high court? We won’t entertain this plea under Article 32,” the CJI said. “This happens every day. Nothing shocks us anymore. We are immune to shocks,” Bode said.
He urged Jethmalani to approach the HC so that it would give SC the benefit of a reasoned order when it deals with the case. Jethmalani agreed to withdraw the plea after the state through counsel Rahul Chitnis said that it does not wish to oppose Thakker’s bail plea listed before a lower court. Thakker has since been released on bail.