● Amid a debate on the process of appointment of judges, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar on Wednesday made strong comments on “public posturing” or “one-upmanship” by the judiciary.
● Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla also spoke in a similar vein.
● Inaugurating the 83rd All India Presiding Officers conference, Mr. Dhankhar, who is the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said that as presiding officers of legislatures, “We cannot have an ostrich-like stance on judiciary-legislature relations.”
● “Parliamentary sovereignty cannot be permitted to be diluted or compromised by the executive or the judiciary, and public posturing or ‘one-upmanship’ that is being frequently witnessed in this matter is not ‘wholesome’,” he added.
● Mr. Dhankhar again brought up the striking down of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act as a case of judicial overreach.
● He noted that it was in 1973, in the Kesavananda Bharati case, that the Supreme Court evolved for the first time the right of the courts to strike down Constitution amendments that violated what it called the Basic Structure, or the fundamental architecture, of the Constitution.
● “I do not subscribe to this, with due respect to the judiciary.
Hitherto unheard of
● In similar remarks on the NJAC Act during his inaugural address in the Rajya Sabha on December 7, Mr. Dhankhar had said that “there was no parallel to such a development in democratic history where a duly legitimised constitutional prescription has been judicially undone”.
● At the conference on Wednesday, he said there was complete unanimity in the Lok Sabha while passing the Constitution (Amendment) Bill. There was not a single dissenting voice. In the Rajya Sabha, there was unanimity apart from one abstention.
V-P: court cannot dilute Parliament’s sovereignty
● “But on October 16, 2015, the highest court of the land held both the 99th Constitution Amendment Act, 2014 and the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 unconstitutional on the premise of being in violation of the Basic Structure,” Mr. Dhankhar said.
● “This is not a challenge to the judiciary, but this has not happened anywhere else in the world. How can Parliament’s sovereignty be compromised,” he asked.
● “In a democratic society, ‘the basic’ of any ‘Basic Structure’ has to be the supremacy of mandate of people. Thus, the primacy and sovereignty of Parliament and legislature is inviolable,” he added.
● Quoting B.R. Ambedkar, he said it must be remembered that the Constitution never envisaged a “third and superior chamber” for Parliament to grant approval to the legislation passed by the two Houses.
● The Speaker said: “Legislatures in our country have always respected the powers of the judiciary. The judiciary is also expected to follow the principle of separation and balance of powers conferred by the Constitution.”
SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB