Amarnath Yatra: The Supreme Court Verdict

implement  them  by  suitable  executive directions till proper legislation is enacted. The report of the IRC has been given to the Government of  India  but  because  of certain difficulties in the present context, no  further  action
by the executive has been possible. The study having  been  made by a Committee considered by the Government of India  itself  as an expert body, it is safe to act on the recommendations of  the IRC to formulate the directions of this  Court,  to  the  extent they are of assistance. In the remaining area, on the  basis  of the  study  of  the  IRC  and  its   recommendations,   suitable directions can be formulated to fill the entire vacuum. This  is the exercise we propose to perform in  the  present  case  since this exercise can no longer be  delayed.  It  is  essential  and indeed the constitutional obligation of  this  Court  under  the
aforesaid provisions to issue the necessary directions  in  this behalf. We now consider formulation of the needed directions  in the performance of this obligation. The directions issued herein for strict compliance are to operate till such time as they  are replaced by suitable legislation in this behalf.”

28.   In the case of University  of  Kerala  v.  Council  of  Principals  of Colleges, Kerala & Ors. [(2010) 1 SCC 353], this Court held as under :

“32. It may be noted that this Court has  on  several  occasions issued directions, directives in  respect  of  those  situations which are not covered by any law. The  decision  in  Vishaka  v. State of Rajasthan is one such instance  wherein  a  three-Judge Bench of this Court gave several directions  to  prevent  sexual harassment of women at the workplace. Taking  into  account  the “absence of enacted law” to provide for effective enforcement of the right  of  gender  equality  and  guarantee  against  sexual harassment, Verma, C.J. held that guidelines and norms given  by the Court will hold the field until legislation was enacted  for the purpose. It was clarified that this Court was  acting  under
Article 32 of the Constitution  and  the  directions  “would  be treated as the law declared by the Court under  Article  141  of the Constitution”. (para 16)

33. Similarly, the Supreme Court issued directions regarding the procedure and the necessary precautions to be  followed  in  the adoption of Indian children by foreign adoptive  parents.  While there was no law to regulate inter-country adoptions,  Bhagwati, J., (as His Lordship then was) in Laxmi Kant Pandey v. Union  of India, formulated an entire scheme for regulating  inter-country and intra-country adoptions. This is an example of the judiciary
filling up the void by giving directions which are still holding the field.”

29.   The above stated principles exhibit the scope and width of  the  power of this Court under Article 32  of  the  Constitution.   There  is  a  clear mandate of law for this Court to  protect  the  fundamental  rights  of  the citizens.  Infringements  of  rights  would  certainly  invite  the  Court’s assistance.  The limitation of acceptability to justice  will  not  come  in the way of the  Court  to  extend  its  powers  to  ensure  due  regard  and enforcement  of  the  fundamental  rights.  The  absence  of  statutory  law occupying the field  formulating  effective  measures  to  check  breach  of rights is the true scope of proper administration of  justice.   It  is  the duty of the Executive to secure the vacuum,  if  any,  by  executive  orders because its field is coterminous with that  of  the  Legislature  and  where there is inaction even by the Executive, for whatever reason, the  Judiciary must step in, in pursuance  of  its constitutional  obligation  to  provide solution in any case till the time  the  Legislature  addresses  the  issue.

The courts have taken precaution not to pass orders even  within  the  ambit of Article  142  of  the  Constitution  that  would  amount  to  supplanting substantive law but at the same time these constitutional powers  cannot  in
any way be controlled by any statutory provision.  The absence of law and  a vacuum or lacunae in law can always be  supplied  by  judicial  dictum.   In some cases, where the jurisdiction is invoked  to  protect  the  fundamental
rights and their enjoyment within the limitation of law, the Court has  even stepped in to pass orders which may have the colour of legislation, till  an appropriate legislation is put in place.  The directions of the Court  could be relatable to a particular lis between the parties and even could be of  a generic nature where the facts of the case called for.  There can  be  cases like the  one  in  hand  where  there  is  no  infringement  of  a  specific legislation or even where no legislation is in place but  are  purely  cases of infringement of fundamental rights and their violation.   The  directives are needed to protect them and to  ensure  that  the  State  discharges  its obligation  of  protecting  the  rights  of  the  people  as  well  as   the environment.   The  deficiencies  in  the  aforementioned  fields  are   not deficiencies simplicitor but have far  reaching  consequences  of  violating the fundamental protections and rights of the people at large.   It  is  the obligation of the State to provide safety,  health  care,  means  to  freely move and to profess the religion in the manner as they desire insofar as  it is within the limitations of law.

30.   Certainly some development projects would have to  be  undertaken  but without infringing on the protection to  the  forests  or  the  environment. These are  ecologically  and  climatically  sensitive  areas.   It  must  be ensured  that  development  does  not  impinge  upon  the  purity   of   the environment beyond restricted  and  permissible  limits.   The  doctrine  of sustainable development and precautionary principle  would  be  the  guiding factors for the courts to pass such directions.  We  had  the  advantage  of having an Expert Committee Report before us, which  recommends  the  various steps, development programmes and precautions that can be undertaken by  the Government and the Shrine  Board  to  the  advantage  of  all  stakeholders, particularly the pilgrims.  Thus, the directions  we  contemplate  to  issue under this order are in conformity with these legal maxims  and  are  likely to cause no practical issues.

31.   Applying these principles to the facts of  the  present  case,  it  is apparently the constitutional obligation of this  Court  to  issue  specific directions in addition or which are to  be  read  mutatis  mutandis  to  the Report of the SHPC.  In the above background, it  is  axiomatic  for  us  to issue the following directions :

1) The report of  the  SHPC  is  hereby  accepted  in  terms  of  this judgment.

2)  The  recommendations  contained  in  the  report  shall  be  read, construed and applied in aid to the directions of  this  Court  and not in derogation thereto.

3)  All  the  recommendations  contained  in  the  report   shall   be implemented under two different heads, i.e., ‘short-term  measures’ and ‘long-term measures’.  This categorization shall be made by the Sub-Committee consisting of the following :

a. Chief Secretary of the State of Jammu and Kashmir;

b. Secretary, Home, State of Jammu and Kashmir; and

c. CEO of the Amarnathji Shrine Board.

4) Steps in relation to health care, improvement  of  walking  tracks, providing of pre-fabricated toilets, tents, pre-fabricated  walking path/mats, construction of STPs and providing  of  one  way  tracks shall be treated as short-term measures.

5) We hereby direct the Chief Secretary of every State to  notify  the hospitals and medical officers in those hospitals who  shall  issue health certificates to all the persons who are  desirous  of  going for  yatra  henceforth.    The  authorities   shall   place   such notification in the public domain and give it due publicity.  These certificates shall be issued free of cost.

6) We direct  the  Chief  Secretary  and  Secretary,  Health  of  each respective  State,  particularly,  the  State  of  Uttar   Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Union Territory of Chandigarh to depute such number of  doctors  during  the  relevant period to the State of Jammu and Kashmir for  ensuring  due  health care of the pilgrims, as may be necessary.

7)  The  State  of  Jammu  and  Kashmir  shall  write  to  the   Chief Secretaries/Secretaries, Health of each State by 30th of  April  of every year, making requisition for the number of  doctors  and  the area of specialization from which such doctors are  required.   The concerned State shall inform the Chief Secretary/Secretary,  Health and the Director General of Health Services of the State  of  Jammu and Kashmir by 30th May of the year, the names with  specialization of the doctors who have been deputed for the yatra  period  at  the State of Jammu and Kashmir  and  actually  direct  and  inform  the
concerned doctors of their ‘temporary duty’,  in  public  interest, with the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

8) The medical teams shall be deployed en route to the Holy Cave at  a regular distance not exceeding two kilometers.

9) The State of Jammu of Kashmir and the Shrine  Board  shall  provide infrastructure, equipment, medicines and


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