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Members question judiciary for putting reservation on hold
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 26
Lok Sabha members across party lines today joined hands on the OBC quota issue. Despite Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s repeated entreaties not to drag judiciary into discussions in Parliament, the members questioned the judiciary for putting on hold 27 per cent reservation in elite educational institutes and demanded convening of a joint session in this regard.

The issue led to an impromptu discussion in the Lok Sabha. Members asserted that Parliament was supreme and demanded that reservation be made applicable from this academic year itself through a constitutional amendment.

Members like Devendra Prasad Yadav (RJD), C. Kuppuswamy (DMK), L. Ganesan (MDMK) and Ram Gopal Yadav (Samajwadi Party) spoke about the situation caused by the Supreme Court stay in the case.

Devendra said a new convention was being set as the judgement of a nine-member Bench was being reversed by a two-member Bench. He continued to speak on judiciary encroaching on the turf of legislature despite appeals from the Chair that there should be no reference to courts.

Kuppuswamy and Ganeshan spoke about the stand taken by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and said, if needed, a joint session be convened for the purpose.

Santosh Gangwar (BJP) and Braj Kishore Tripathy (BJD) accused the government of not properly projecting the case before the apex court, which resulted in the stay.

Mohammad Salim (CPI-M) wanted the government to take urgent measures to ensure that the implementation of the quota was possible from this year itself. V. Kishore Chandra Deo

(Congress) said the government should resolve the issue in such a manner that such conflicts do not recur in future. S.S. Dhindsa (SAD) said economically weaker sections should be provided reservation.

The issue also figured in the Rajya Sabha, but nothing could be heard in the din. The speaker while winding up the debate, observed “let us hope the sentiments expressed in the House will be duly noted. We must also respect the judiciary... they are also entitled to respect.”

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Speaker cautions against judicial activism
T.R. Ramachandran/Tribune News Service

Somnath ChatterjeeNew Delhi, April 26
Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee categorically said today that 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 authority by any other authority, howsoever highly placed but non-accountable, is anathema in a democracy. 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. I believe activism of any institution has to be first and foremost directed to the due discharge of its own basic and fundamental duties,” Chatterjee said while delivering the Kailash Nath Katju memorial lecture here on “Separation of powers and judicial activism in India.”

Noting that institutions of governance in the country had been intentionally founded on the principle of separation of powers as a bulwark against tyranny of any or more organs of the state, Chatterjee noted that “the constitution does not contemplate a super-organ nor confers an overriding authority on any one organ. No organ has any power to superintend over the exercise of powers and functions of another unless the constitution strictly so mandates.”

He regretted that of late it was being noticed that the lines demarcating the jurisdiction of the different organs of the state were getting blurred as a section of the judiciary seemed to be of the view that it had the authority by way of what is described as “judicial activism” to exercise powers which were earmarked by the constitution for the legislative or the executive branches.

He cautioned that the contention of the judiciary to take on itself the onerous responsibility of governance of the country in matters which the constitution had imposed on either the executive or the legislature had serious implications.

He said: “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 an executive nature and what are the constitutional and legal sanctions behind such orders made and directions given by courts by way of judicial activism?”

Chatterjee felt it was important for the judiciary to remind itself that its “task does not include an amorphous supervision of the government.”

The speaker listed what he considered important issues in connection with the exercise of an activist role of the judiciary as follows: (a) What are the laws, legal principles or authorities which will be applied or followed by the judiciary in deciding matters which will require exercise of jurisdiction assigned to some other organ or authority?; (b) What is the method or procedure provided by the constitution or any law for enforcement of such orders?

“I humbly submit that for any organ or authority under the constitution to enjoy any power not specifically or by clear implication conferred by the constitution, the source of power is or can be only Parliament and no other authority. As has been held the Supreme Court can declare the law and cannot enact law,” the speaker maintained.

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