New Delhi, May 28 (PTI) Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Thursday complained to the Supreme Court that there are 'arm chair intellectuals' acting as 'prophets of doom' in the country by spreading negativity and not recognizing the 'humongous' efforts being made to deal with migrant workers' crisis following the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
Mehta, assisting the top court in the matter, said that as an officer of the court he has a complain not against the court but against handful of the people who, based on some media reports about an isolated incidents, are spreading “misinformation” and spreading “negativity” during the crisis.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah, hearing a suo motu case on the miseries faced by migrant workers during the lockdown, was informed by Mehta, appearing for the Centre, about the steps taken by the government to deal with the crisis.
“There are Prophets of Doom in our country which only spread negativity, negativity and negativity. These people are always sceptical about everything. These arm chair intellectuals do not recognize the nation's effort in dealing with the crisis. All these people squabbling on social media, giving interviews, writing articles against every other institution, cannot even acknowledge what is being done by the government,” he said.
The senior law officer said that these kinds of people have not shown any courtesy to the nation, while the country has responded to the pandemic and “they don’t even have the patriotism to acknowledge the work done to mitigate the crisis”.
Mehta said he wanted that his complaint should be brought on record that “Some isolated, limited instance are repeatedly shown in the media. Sometimes a limited instance has a long lasting impact on the human mind” He further said: “A large number of steps were taken by the government and the apex court was fully satisfied about them earlier. State governments and ministers are working overnight. None of these ‘public spirited people’ and ‘armchair intellectuals,’ has acknowledged that effort”.
Mehta highlighted that around one crore migrant workers are shifted but there are some who do not want to shift due to the reopening of the activities.
“Migrants are walking because of anxiety or local level instigation where they are said ‘walk now, trains won't run. Lockdown extended,” he said.
Mehta referred to the famous photograph of “The vulture and the girl” which was published in The New Yorks Time in 1993 and said that the picture won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 but the photographer Eric Carter committed suicide four months thereafter.
He said that Carter had taken the picture in Sudan in 1993, where a vulture was waiting for the panic stricken child to die.
“He (Eric Carter) was not an activist. He was not running an NGO. Perhaps, he was a man with conscience. Some journalist asked him what happened to that child. He said I don't know as I had to return to home. Then the reporter asked him as how many vultures were there? To which, carter replied only one. The reporter replied to him no, there were two. One was holding the camera”, Mehta narrated the story to the bench.
He said that those who come before the court must establish their credentials, whether they have spent the penny on the migrant workers and whether these people who are criticizing, has any one of them come out of their air conditioned drawing rooms to help them? Mehta stated that this has become a trend and the Court, as an institution, has to prevent the spread of this trend and stressed that the trend is that handful of people give “certificates” to judges of neutrality only if judges abuse the Executive.
He said that a handful of people must not be able to drive the exercise of jurisdiction of the apex court and pointed that every time the judges refuse to abuse the Executive/Legislative action, it is not a rehash of the ADM Jabalpur era.
The Solicitor General stressed that the trend is that if the Court, in its wisdom ever declines a matter on merits, it suddenly becomes an ‘ADM Jabalpur’ moment, making it a slur on the reputation of the Court.
In the ADM Jabalpur case of 1976, the five-judge bench of the apex court by a majority verdict 4:1 had arrived at the conclusion that Article 21 is the sole repository of all rights to life and personal liberty, and, when suspended, takes away those rights altogether.
The SG said that all those people who want to intervene in the suo motu case need to apply the vulture and child story and tell the court how they have contributed.
Mehta said that people are working tirelessly during the crisis right from the sanitation workers level to the Prime Minister level and the court should not allow the proceedings to become a platform for political speeches.
To this, the bench replied that people who have been part of the institution, if they believe they can run down the institution, it is unfortunate.
“We have to go by our conscience,” Justice Kaul said.
Mehta also alleged that some High Courts are working and passing orders like they are virtually running parallel governments and such courts are being applauded by these “armchair intellectuals”.
He stressed that every Court must exercise its discretion with its own wisdom and analysis and without playing to the gallery and its majesty and magnanimity, should not be construed as the Court’s weakness. PTI MNL ABA SJK SA