New Delhi, January 11
Stressing the need for a “perfect balance” among the three organs of the government with neither of them breaching the other’s domain, Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla today lamented the striking down of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act in 2015 by the Supreme Court and advised the judiciary to “stay within constitutional limits”. Dhankhar, while delivering the inaugural speech at the 83rd All India Presiding Officers Conference (AIPOC) in Jaipur, said the SC’s move to strike down the NJAC Act in 2015 was “a scenario perhaps unparalleled in the democratic history of the world”.
One-upmanship and public posturing from judicial platforms aren’t good. These institutions must know how to conduct themselves. Jagdeep Dhankhar, Vice-President
Highlighting the importance of “separation of powers” among three pillars of the government enshrined in the Constitution, Dhankhar said parliamentary sovereignty and autonomy were “quintessential for the survival of democracy and cannot be permitted to be compromised by the executive or judiciary”.
“The executive is ordained to be in compliance with the constitutional prescription emanating from Parliament. It was obligated to adhere to the NJAC. Judicial verdict cannot run it down,” the Vice-President said, referring to the scrapping of the NJAC Act, which was enacted by the NDA government for appointments in higher judiciary.
The Vice-President reiterated his views on the subject against the backdrop of a raging debate on the issue of appointments in higher judiciary. The government has been questioning the current Collegium system, while the Supreme Court has been defending it. Dhankhar had also flagged this issue during his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha as its Chairman, saying that a law made unanimously by Parliament should be final.
Referring to a bench of the Supreme Court asking the Attorney General to pass on the message to constitutional authorities to refrain from making statements on the Collegium system, Dhankhar said, “I declined to entertain the Attorney General on this point. I cannot be a party to emasculate the powers of the legislature.” “Today this one-upmanship and public posturing from judicial platforms are not good. These institutions must know how to conduct themselves,” he said.
Showing his disagreement with the 1973 Kesavananda Bharati judgment, Dhankhar talked about the “basic structure” of the Constitution and said in a democratic society the “basic of any basic structure has to be the supremacy of the mandate of people”.
In the Kesavananda Bharati judgment, the SC barred Parliament from amending the basic structure of Constitution.
On Parliament disruption, Dhankhar said there was “disappointment and anguish” among people at the lack of decorum and discipline during proceedings in Parliament and legislatures.
Meanwhile, Speaker Birla in his address during the inaugural session said the judiciary and legislature should maintain the principle of separation and balance of power. He said the legislatures in India had always respected the powers and authority of the judiciary.
Birla went on to add that the three organs of the government drew their powers and jurisdiction from the Constitution and each of them should work in harmony, trust and balance. He also advised the judiciary “to stay within constitutional limits”. Referring to India’s G-20 chairmanship, Birla said, “The country will strongly present the theme of its oldest democratic tradition and cultural diversity on the global forum.”
Separation of powers a must
- Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar highlighted the importance of “separation of powers” among three pillars of the government
- Parliamentary sovereignty, autonomy quintessential for survival of democracy, he says
- The Vice-President’s views come against the backdrop of a raging debate on the issue of appointments in higher judiciary
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