The Punjab and Haryana High Court expressed its resentment while describing as unfortunate, the tendency of people to invoke writ jurisdiction at the “drop of a hat” as “if High Courts are tehsil courts”.
The Bench comprising of Justices Jaswant Singh and Rajesh Bhardwaj had made it clear that citizens are expected to approach the right forum before raising their pleas and not come to the High Court directly.
Further, while highlighting that its inherent powers were to be exercised cautiously and with restraint and should not be invoked to circumvent other fora, the court held that “Here we are constrained to add that it is unfortunate to see Writ Jurisdiction being invoked at the drop of a hat as if High Courts are Tehsil Courts.”
The above observations were made during the hearing of a petition filed by residents of a village in Karnal, Haryana, seeking the Court’s intervention in hastening repairs on a stretch of the village road. The road stretched from the Khora Kheri village to an Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) township.
The petitioners averred that the IOC was required to deposit an amount of Rs. 21.27 Lakh for the road repairs, which were not done. Two letters and a document from 2012 were produced to substantiate this claim.
Though the Bench initially expressed its reservations on the maintainability of the writ petition, it attempted to resolve the petitioners’ grievances. Accordingly, the Bench called upon the counsel for IOC, to apprise the Court if it was responsible for the maintenance of the road and if yes, why funds were not released. Subsequently, the court pointed out that the question of who was responsible for the road was essentially a matter of dispute between the PWD and IOC, two government bodies. Therefore, it observed that the question was one which the district administration and/or a civil court was best suited to decide.
Article 226 of the Constitution, the provision of law from which High Courts draw their power, cannot be invoked to overreach the functioning of District Administrations, the Court said.
“For each grievance, the Legislature has provided for remedies to its Citizens by enacting statutes, which are required to be invoked by them for redressal,” the Court asserted.