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‘Cannot interfere with State’s policy decision’

Merely because another view is possible, the courts would not ordinarily interfere with a policy decision unless there is a violation of fundamental rights or violation of provision of law.

Making this observation, a bench of Telangana High Court Chief Justice Raghvenda Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy delivered a verdict dismissing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by social activist Sunitha Krishnan, seeking re-imposition of lockdown in the State following phenomenal rise in COVID-19 cases. If the relief requested by the petitioner was granted, the lockdown imposed through GO MS no. 45 dated March 22 should be continued.

If the other consequential relief sought by the petitioner were allowed, it would amount to directing or advising the executive in a policy matter, the verdict said.

The writ court rarely enters such exclusive arena of the executive authorities. “…the writ court cannot usurp and encroach upon the powers of the executive. For, it would be an anathema both to the doctrine of separation of powers, and to the system of democracy,” the verdict said.

The judgment said the courts ‘have to respect decisions of the popular government…more so when popular decisions are made. Sometimes the government decisions may appear to be in excess of their powers and even unusual’. Unless such decisions infringed upon fundamental rights of a citizen or provisions of law, the courts would not be inclined to differ with them, the verdict said.

“Merely because there is another view, the courts ordinarily would not interfere with the decision of the executive,” the order said. Referring to the petitioner’s contention that relaxation of lockdown was likely to result in disastrous consequences, the order said there was no compulsion on citizens to visit a religious place, restaurant or a shopping mall.

The court cannot sit as an appellate court over a policy decision of the State.

“The State is well within its domain to take decision to relax lockdown norms, and also to review the situation from time to time,” the verdict said.

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