New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed at the admission stage a public interest litigation petition challenging the nuclear deal between India and the U.S.
Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan told counsel for advocate-petitioner Manohar Lal Sharma: “This is only an agreement or a treaty and no legislation is required. The Indian Parliament has not passed any law to accept U.S. laws. How can you say that we are accepting U.S. laws? Your prayers cannot be considered by this court.”
Justice P. Sathasivam asked the petitioner, “Is it possible for this court to prevent the state from entering into an agreement or formulating a policy?”
Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam said: “It [123 agreement] was just a bilateral agreement and we are bound only by the agreement and not by the Hyde Act, which was only an enabling dispensation for the U.S. government to enter into an agreement and nothing more.”
Mr. Sharma argued that an important constitutional question was involved, viz. whether the Centre was empowered to impose any American law upon India without passing legislation. By this treaty the U.S. would have complete control over India in nuclear energy and the Union government was bound to follow six other U.S. laws, he said.
Counsel told the Bench, which included J.M. Panchal, that the nuclear deal was not just a treaty. Under Section 30 1 (g) of the Atomic Energy Act, the government was to make rules for regulating the production, import, export, transfer, possession, ownership, sale, use or disposal of the prescribed substances. Since the treaty pertained to import of nuclear energy, relevant rules ought to have been made by Parliament.
In his PIL, Mr. Sharma said that under the provisions of the Hyde Act, the U.S. President would have powers to control India’s nuclear activities. The President should comply with the provisions of Section 104 (g) and report to the U.S. Congress on nuclear activities in India. He sought a direction to declare the deal ultra vires and unconstitutional.
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