Unchartered Ocean of Policy Decision III / The Revival of Ray LXXVII

It is settled law, Court cannot interfere with soundness and wisdom of a policy. A policy is subject to judicial review on limited grounds [Asif Hammed v. State of Jammu & Kashmir, 1989 Supp (2) SCC 364; Sitaram Sugar Co Ltd. v. Union of India, (1990) 3 SCC 223; Khoday Distilleries Ltd. v. State of Karnataka, (1996) 10 SCC 304; BALCO Employees’ Union (Regd.) v. Union of India, (2002) 2 SCC 333; State of Orissa v. Gopinath Dash, (2005) 13 SCC 495]. It is also settled, Courts would show a higher degree of deference to matters concerning economic policy, compared to other matters of civil and political rights [R.K. Garg v. Union of India, (1981) 4 SCC 675].

G.O. Ms. No. 50 [13/05/2016] is, in essence, a social policy. We deem it imperative to determine if it violates fundamental rights, in particular Article 14.” 

High Court held G.O. Ms. No. 50 [13/05/2016] to be under-inclusive for not extending benefit to ‘other farmers’ or ‘large farmers’. A statute is under-inclusive, if it fails to regulate all actors who are a part of ‘problem’. A classification is reasonable, when twin tests as laid down by Justice SR Das in State of W.B v. Anwar Ali Sarkar, AIR 1952 SC 75 are fulfilled.

We find it imperative to undertake a much more substantive review.”

G.O. Ms. No. 50 [13/05/2016] classification, based on extent of landholding, is not ‘arbitrary’ since, owing to inherent disadvantaged status of ‘small and marginal farmers’, impact of climate change or other external forces is unequal. It passes muster against a constitutional challenge.

Hon’ble Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud, State of Tamil Nadu v. National South Indian River Interlinking Agriculturist Association, [Civil Appeal No. 6764 of 2021].