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Only when a policy decision violates one of the fundamental rights protected by the Indian Constitution or another statutory right, will the court be asked to weigh in on the legality of that policy: Uttarakhand High Court

Only when a policy decision violates one of the fundamental rights protected by the Indian Constitution or another statutory right, will the court be asked to weigh in on the legality of that policy is upheld by the Uttarakhand High Court in the case of Narendra Kumar v. State of Uttarakhand through a division bench of Ramesh Ranganathan, CJ, and N.S. Dhanik, J.

FACTS OF THE CASE

A PIL asking for mandamus to order the respondents to form a committee to manage the affairs of the Purnagiri Temple and to order the first respondent to appoint commissioners in significant temples where no management committee has yet been appointed was filed.

In the matter of Constituting a Trust, Almora v. State of Uttarakhand, 2013, where certain directions were issued regarding constitution of a Committee of Management for the Jageshwar Dham, the learned counsel for the petitioner based their arguments. The learned counsel also cited a number of decisions that had instructed the State Government to compile a list of all public temples located throughout the State in order to include them in the Schedule and had advised it to draught appropriate legislation to ensure the proper operation of Hindu public religious institutions and charitable endowments. Article 246 of the Indian Constitution grants the State Legislature and the Parliament with equal authority. The Executive was also given the authority to make administrative directives under Article 162 of the Indian Constitution in the absence of any legislation.

JUDGEMENT

The Court asserted that no court can order a legislature to pass a specific statute, citing a number of Supreme Court rulings in support of its position. Similar to this, no court can order a lower legislative body to implement or not pass a law that it may be authorised to do so.

The Court went on to say that although they had the jurisdiction to invalidate a statute for a lack of authority, that did not necessarily mean they would not hear an appeal about the approach taken by Parliament or the State Legislature when adopting a legislation. It is necessary to uphold the executive authority of the State as having the authority to formulate a policy for the conduct of the State.

The Court declared that it “would not direct the executive to adopt a particular policy or the legislature to convert it into enacted law” because “the task to design policies is entrusted to the executive, which is accountable to the legislature.” The court also cited the lawfully upheld decision in Census Commr. v. R. Krishnamurthy, 2015,which said that the executive and legislative branches of government should have the discretion to make policies. Only when it is argued that a policy decision violates one of the fundamental rights protected by the Indian Constitution or another statutory right will the court be asked to weigh in on the legality of that policy.

The Court instructed the respondent to think it reasonable to examine the precise charges stated in the aforementioned representation because the petitioner had brought up numerous illegalities in the way the subject temple is being maintained.

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY NISHTHA GARHWAL

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