Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar says court can’t dilute Parliament’s sovereignty

Mr. Dhankhar says he does not subscribe to the idea that judiciary can strike down amendments passed by the legislature on the ground that they violate the ‘Basic Structure’ of the Constitution

January 11, 2023 02:24 pm | Updated 11:05 pm IST - Jaipur

Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar addresses the 83rd All India Presiding Officers Conference in Jaipur on January 11, 2023. Photo: Twitter/@VPSecretariat

Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar addresses the 83rd All India Presiding Officers Conference in Jaipur on January 11, 2023. Photo: Twitter/@VPSecretariat

Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar on January 11 said that 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”.

“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,” Mr. Dhankar said addressing the 83rd All India Presiding Officers Conference in Jaipur.

“Can the power of the Parliament to amend the constitution be dependent on any other institution. Can any organisation or institution say that this needs our stamp,” he asked.

Citingthe National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, the Vice President said there was complete unanimity in the Lok Sabha while passing the Constitutional Amendment Bill. There was not a single dissenting voice. In Rajya Sabha, there was unanimity but there was one abstention.

“But on October 16, 2015, the highest court of the land in a 4-1 majority verdict, held both the 99th Constitution Amendment Act, 2014, and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014, unconstitutional on the premise of being in violation of the basic structure”.

“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 said.

In similar remarks on the NJAC Bill during his inaugural address in the Rajya Sabha on December 7, Mr Dhankar 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 AIPOC here on Wednesday, Mr Dhankar said 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 constitutional 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,” he said.

“In subsequent years, the highest court delivered significant rulings on matters that it held pivotal to this ‘Basic Structure’ and in the process parliamentary sovereignty was compromised. “

Quoting Dr. 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 legislations passed by the two Houses.

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