M A I N   N E W S

Speakers voice concern
SC order on Jharkhand
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 20
An emergency conference of Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies of India, boycotted by Speakers of NDA-ruled states, today expressed concern over court orders, which tend to disturb the delicate balance of power between Judiciary and Legislature and appeared to be a transgression into the independence of the Parliamentary System of our country.

Reiterating that Judiciary and Legislatures were supreme within the areas assigned to them by the Constitution, the conference felt that “It is imperative to maintain harmonious relations between the Legislatures and the Judiciary.”

The conference was attended among others by Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal of the Shiromani Akali Dal while Tamil Nadu Speaker K Kalimuthu of AIADMK stayed away. Presiding Officers of NDA-ruled states, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, were not present at the conference. Speakers of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal were also present. Punjab was represented by its Deputy Speaker, Prof Darbari Lal.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, who chaired the day-long conference and delivered the inaugural address, was categorical that “While the Legislatures should not cross the Laxman rekha (limits set in the Constitution), similarly we feel all organs of the Constitution should not cross the limits.”

In a five-page resolution, unanimously passed at the conference, called in the backdrop of the Supreme Court order on Jharkhand, also said that “The Judiciary commands and justly deserves the respect and dignity it enjoys; that the Legislatures also, as the supreme legislative and representative bodies which give voice to the hopes and aspirations of the teeming millions of this country, deserve the same degree of respect and dignity.”

Mr Chatterjee in his hour-long speech and later at the press briefing emphasised that the conference was not intended to create any confrontation between the Legislature and the Judiciary nor was it to discuss the political aspects arising out of the Supreme Court order on Jharkhand issue.

Asserting that he had never demanded Presidential Reference on the March 9 Supreme Court order, Mr Chatterjee said he had favoured it on the basis of the opinion of the preponderant majority at an all-party meeting on March 10.

“Unnecessarily an impression was being created that I have intruded into a political arena or into an area of conflict,” Mr Chatterjee said hoping that today’s conference would put an end to the controversy.

“It was strange to say the least, that my statement (on March 10) could have been construed as an interference with the Order of the Supreme Court or having contended for stay or nullification thereof or of inviting anyone to ignore the same. Obviously, the order would have its effect, whether implementable or not,” he said, adding “but that does not mean that the question raised is not import or should not be seriously looked into.”

“Let me once again emphasise here that this emergency conference is not and cannot be concerned with the political issues and questions relating to the state of Jharkhand nor is it concerned with the applicability of the order of the Supreme Court dated March 9, 2005 in so far as the State Legislative Assembly is concerned...The Supreme Court order was assumed to be binding on the parties to the dispute unless and until the court decided otherwise,” he said.

However, the Lok Sabha Speaker asserted that “The issue arising out of the Interim Order of the Supreme Court in the Case are of such far reaching ambit that if not re-considered and if followed in future, it will upset the constitutional balance and the democratic functioning of the State as a whole.”

Explaining the rationale behind convening today’s conference, he said, “In the wake of the Apex Court’s orders in the Jharkhand case, my humble but considered view is that we are once again confronted with an unfortunate situation...This is a matter which should be looked into transcending all political ideologies and topical developments.

“With all respect to the Supreme Court, I am of the view that the very principle of separation of powers which is one of the basic features of our governance has been violated,” he said.

“Each organ of the State — the Judiciary, the Legislature and the Executive - is the creation of the Constitution, and derives its powers from the Constitution and is expected to function in conformity with it...if any one of them oversteps the assigned limits or displays trends towards that, the stability of the entire edifice could be affected,” Mr Chatterjee warned.

“Thus very humbly I submit that such an order cannot be treated as a decision on the entire gamut of the principles of separation of powers, as clearly enshrined in Articles 122 and 212 of the Constitution and also of Article 361 thereof or as a precedent,” he added.

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