Governance: Speaker's poser to judiciary

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Somnath Chatterjee
Somnath Chatterjee

Legal Correspondent

Lok Sabha Speaker says this will have serious implications

  • No particular organ can assume that it alone can solve people's problems: Somnath
  • Says Constitution has provided for a mutually complimentary relationship between judiciary and legislature

    NEW DELHI: Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Thursday maintained that judiciary taking on itself the onerous responsibility of governance of the country had serious implications.

    The Speaker said: "In a democracy, where rule of law and not laws of men prevail, for its every action or inaction, the executive authority must be and is accountable to the people. But where the judiciary interferes with policy decisions of the executive and takes decisions clearly of administrative nature, I feel that it may then be proper to ask: is the judiciary accountable to anyone for the discharge of functions of executive nature and what are the constitutional and legal sanctions behind such orders made and directions given by courts, by way of judicial activism?"

    Contention wrong

    Mr. Chatterjee made this statement during the Dr. Kailash Nath Katju Memorial Lecture here on `Separation of powers under the Constitution and Judicial Activism.' He said: "The contention that judiciary should take on itself the onerous responsibility of the governance of the country, in matters, which the Constitution has imposed on either the Executive or Legislature, has serious implications."

    He said: "The responsibility for managing public affairs should be well left to those on whom the Constitution has imposed such obligation and for which, in the ultimate analysis, they are accountable to the people. This accountability is what differentiates democracy from other systems of governance. Discharge of executive responsibilities by any other authority, howsoever highly placed, but non-accountable, is anathema in a democracy."

    The Speaker said: "There should be no assumption that any particular organ has any inherent superiority or a monopoly over concern for the people or that it alone can solve their problems."

    Explaining the role of Parliament, he said: "The people's representatives decide what laws have to be enacted for the governance of the country. The Council of Ministers has to execute the policies and programmes through the executive set-up." He said that the Constitution had provided for a close relationship between the judiciary and the legislature, not in a manner of controlling each other but of a mutually complementary relationship.

    PILs in court

    On the court entertaining Public Interest Litigations (PILs), the Speaker asked "in the absence of any procedure under any law made by Parliament for enforcement or orders made in the PIL relating to executive or legislative matters, can the courts enforce such orders by adopting novel methods like appointing Monitoring Committee, thus themselves entering into the arena or by taking recourse to the jurisdiction `in terrorem', namely, the power to punish for contempt of court?"

    Concern over pending cases

    "The large number of arrears pending in almost all the courts is affecting the people's faith in our justice-delivery system. These issues require to be given very serious attention not only by the Legislature or by the Executive but also by the Judiciary. One has to admit that in many instances the judiciary [without attributing any fault to it] is not able to cater to the needs of the people of the country."

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