VP Jagdeep Dhankhar reminds Judiciary of ‘Laxman Rekha’ on first day of Rajya Sabha – Flying Journals


Veep, first day in Rajya Sabha, reminds Judiciary of 'Laxman Rekha'

New Delhi:

The debate between the government and the Supreme Court over judge appointments came under the spotlight again today, with Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar highlighting the issue and calling on lawmakers to act in his maiden speech on the Rajya Sabha. The historic NJAC Bill, passed unanimously by Parliament, was “rejected by the Supreme Court”, the chairman of the House of Commons said in what he said was a “serious compromise of Parliament’s sovereignty and a disregard for the people’s mandate”.

It is disturbing that on “an issue of this magnitude, so important to the fabric of democracy, Parliament has been paying no attention, now for more than seven years … this House, in partnership with the Lok Sabha, has become the responsibility of the people to resolve this problem, I believe it will,” he said.

The NJAC Act, passed in 2015, gave the government a role in judicial appointments, an area the Supreme Court passed the Collegium system for two decades.

The law has been challenged in court, with petitions claiming it would undermine judicial independence. Constitutional judges have since overturned the law, pointing to the 1975-77 state of emergency imposed by the then Congressional government.

The court said it could not be caught in a “web of debt” to the government. Justice JS Khehar, who leads the five-judge Constitutional Justice, said: “Only maintaining the judiciary’s absolute separation and independence from other institutions can ensure the governance expected of the judiciary to uphold the rights of citizens in this country”.

Mr Dhankhar, who also touched on the issue earlier, said today that “any intrusion by one institution into another has the potential to disrupt the apple cart of governance”.

Pointing to the broad support for the NJAC Act, he said, “The contemporaneous conditions on this point are worrisome and make it imperative that we abide by the high standards set by the Constitutional Convention. We need to recognize the serious public discomfort and distrust of those in the sanctuary of democracy.” Disappointment in lack of etiquette”.

Mr Dhankhar also tweeted a video clip of his speech and made a series of strong remarks.

Speaking at an event attended by India’s Chief Justice DY Chandrachud on Friday, Mr Dhankhar criticized what he said was the lack of parliamentary reaction when the Supreme Court struck down the NJAC law.

The vice president’s comments came days after the Supreme Court expressed displeasure with the administration’s delay in signing up the judges.

Judges SK Kaul and AS Oka, hearing a petition, said: “Once Collegium reaffirms a name, that’s the end of the chapter…it (the government) is crossing Rs. Konghe” alleges “intentional disobedience” to the appointment time limit set by the court. “Please fix this and don’t make us make a judicial decision on this,” the bench said.

Over the past few years, the administration has repeatedly overruled several of the names the Supreme Court has chosen to promote. The last time was last month, when the government refused to approve the 10 names chosen for promotion by the Supreme Court.

Federal Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju has made it clear that before 1991, the government selected judges. He said the current system was the result of a judicial order and was “incompatible” with the Constitution.

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