‘tarikh pe tarikh’..Is it that difficult to disagree with the Supreme Court or its judgement?

Karnataka steelmakers as SC adjourns case, again for the 13th time !!

And this is what I want to ask today. Is it wrong to disagree with the Supreme Court in India? Why is it that disagreeing with a SC order or the way its proceedings are held, in a specific case or in general, are taken as a contempt of the judiciary in India? Also, the demons of ‘contempt of court’ if we say anything against the court or its order, has to be taken out. Else, we are not free.

March 30 was a regular day in the Supreme Court of India with many cases heard and many deferred. One of the cases was of the steel-makers in Karnataka crying for iron ore supply in order to sustain steel production. On that day, the Supreme Court of India adjourned the hearing of the iron ore mining case for the 13th time.

Out of the 27 times that the case was listed in the Supreme Court, the hearing has been deferred 13 times. Means nearly every second hearing was deferred/adjourned or whatever legal jargon you want to give. (PS: Dear Supreme Court, I am in complete knowledge of your guidelines for court reporters and let me assure you that I am not a court reporter).

Out of these 13 adjournments, five have happened consecutively since February 24, the latest one being the one on March 30. On March 16, the hearing was adjourned as one of the judges wasn’t available and March 23 hearing was adjourned because the CEC panel failed to submit its report to the SC bench.  The Supreme Court, in a notice on its website on March 14, said,

“Due to non-availability of Honourable Mr Justice Aftab Alam for hearing forest bench matters, special bench comprising of Honourable The Chief Justice, Honourable Mr Justice Aftab Alam and Honourable Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar for hearing the matter will not sit on Friday, the 16 March 2012.”

This case is a matter of national importance and the stakes are high. And even though nearly half of the scheduled hearings getting cancelled due to one reason or the other, companies/stakeholders/everyone who is affected by this, are keeping their mouth shut fearing a showdown by the SC. The companies are silent. They are scared that whatever they may say will be taken against them by the SC.

So, is it that even the SC, the guardian of citizens’ rights in this country doesn’t tolerate freedom of expression/speech even when its done keeping in mind all the clauses of the constitution? Is it that difficult to disagree with the Supreme Court or its judgement?

The steel industry in Karnataka is again staring at a near shut down situation because of these delays. Steel-makers say that the CEC, in its report to the SC, recommended category ‘A’ mines to function as no illegalities were found there. ” All we are asking the SC to consider this recommendation as soon as possible so that the steel production can carry on,” they say.

So, I ask the question again. Till when are we going to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the stark realities that face us? The argument that Indian courts are over-worked with millions of cases pending, is valid. But, such cases where the future of our economic development depends, can’t be left to such frequent adjournments.

Currently, with no solution in sight, only a “few” months iron ore supplies are left in the state. Over half of the sponge iron makers in Karnataka have already drawn shutters and rest are bleeding money profusely in the hope of a judgement. The mega steel plants in the state, too, are slowly cutting production. The total steel capacity in Karnataka is 16 million tonne, of that 3 million tonne is sponge iron. Most of this sponge iron production has been shut down and steel plants are running at low capacities.

(courtesy: BlogAdda & A Day In My Life)


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