In any democracy, parliamentary sovereignty is inviolable, Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar said in his maiden speech as the chairman of the Rajya Sabha on the first day of the winter session of parliament. He chided the two Houses for not taking cognisance, over the last seven years, of the 2015 Supreme Court judgmentsetting aside the Constitutional amendment to constitute the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC).
This is the second time in the last week that the Vice-President has raised the issue of “judicial incursions” into the legislative domain.
Mr. Dhankhar pointed out that the amendment had been passed with unprecedented support by both Houses and approval from 16 State Assemblies. However, on October 16, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled — by a 4:1 majority — that it was not in consonance with the basic structure of the Constitution, and scrapped the legislation.
‘People’s mandate disregarded’
There is no parallel to such a development in democratic history where a duly legitimised Constitutional prescription has been judicially undone, said the Vice-President. He called it a “glaring” instance of a severe compromise of parliamentary sovereignty and disregard of the mandate of the people.
The “basic structure”, Mr. Dhankhar asserted, is the prevalence of primacy of the mandate of the people reflected in the parliament. “It is disconcerting to note that on such a momentous issue, so vital to democratic fabric, there has been no focus in the Parliament, now for over seven years. This House, in concert with the Lok Sabha, being custodian of the ordainment of the people, is duty bound to address the issue, and I am sure it will do so,” he added.
PM welcomes VP
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the Vice President, followed by felicitations by other members. Hailing Mr. Dhankhar as a leader who has both the elements of jawan (soldier) and kisan (farmer) in him, the Prime Minister said that the House was fortunate to receive his able and effective leadership at this juncture in history.
“Our Vice-President is a kisan putra (farmer’s son) and he studied at a Sainik school. Thus, he is closely associated with jawans and kisans,” said Mr. Modi. He also expressed the hope that Mr. Dhankhar would keep the house engaged with his ready wit, just as his predecessor Venkaiah Naidu did with his one-liners.
Noting that India has just assumed the presidency of the G20, the PM said that this is also a time when India has commenced its journey into Amrit Kaal, referring to the 25 years remaining before the centenary celebrations of the country’s Independence. “Not only will Amrit Kaal’ be a period of development and glory for the country, it will also be an occasion when India will play an important role in giving direction to the world,” Mr. Modi said.