Underlining the primacy of debate and discussion in a democracy, Vice President M. Hamid Ansari on Wednesday said that it was important that legislative institutions in the country had time to deliberate.
“All systems go through stresses and strains. But a mature system responds to it maturely. A democratic system must respond through debate and discussion,” Mr. Ansari said, referring to the separation of powers envisaged in the Constitution.
He was addressing a function to release a book, The Legislature and the Judiciary: Judicial Pronouncements on Parliament and State Legislatures, a joint product of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat and the Indian Law Institute.
Commending the publication in a neglected area of research, the Vice President who is also Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said there was great scope to strengthen research on legislative institutions in the country.
He said the Rajya Sabha took an initiative to institute the Dr. S. Radhakrishnan Chair and Fellowships on Parliamentary Studies and felt that it would go some distance in bridging the gap.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan, who presided, emphasised the need for upholding the principle of harmonious functioning of the legislature and the judiciary. He highlighted the importance of the publication in enriching understanding of complex issues between the judiciary and the legislature.
Legal luminary Upendra Baxi, who wrote the foreword, expressed concern over lack of research on Indian Parliament and legislative institutions vis-à-vis the Indian judiciary. He said the publication would contribute enormously in promoting constitutional literacy.
He expressed concern over lack of time for legislative deliberations and suggested an amendment to the Constitution to make mature legislative deliberations a fundamental right. Calling for transparency in parliamentary governance, he advocated a social or citizen audit of the legislative work, not to denigrate the efforts of the legislators but to strengthen and further their role.
E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, MP elaborated on the structure of the book and hoped that it would provide valuable insight into the judicial approach to the functioning of the legislature. The former Union Law Secretary, Raghbir Singh, recalled past instances of conflicts between the legislature and the judiciary and how these were now well settled.
Several MPs from across the political spectrum were present.