NEW DELHI: The row over the judiciary-versus-executive supremacy refuses to die down.
A week after the Chief Justice of India described the ‘doctrine of basic structure’ as the ‘North Star’ – a metaphor for something stable and fixed – Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar on Friday used the same usage for the Parliament.
Dhankhar, vice-chairperson of Rajya Sabha, was addressing the members of the House. The CJI had remarked that the ‘basic structure doctrine’ guides and gives directions to the implementers and interpreters of the Indian Constitution when the path ahead is convoluted.
On Friday, Dhankhar told the MPs that, “The Parliament in essence is the North Star of democracy. It is a place of discussion and deliberation to realise the aspirations and dreams of the people and not a place of disturbance. We are required to work in accordance with rules.”
The CJI’s remark had come against the backdrop of Dhankhar questioning the landmark 1973 Kesavananda Bharati case verdict. The V-P’s views came when he was addressing the 82nd All India Presiding Officers Conference in Jaipur on January 11. Dhankhar said the judiciary cannot intervene in lawmaking.
He had said that if any authority questions Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution, it would be difficult to say “we are a democratic nation.” After that, CJI speaking at Nani A Palkhivala Memorial Lecture on Saturday had remarked that the craftsmanship of judges lies in interpreting the text of the Constitutions with the changing times keeping its ‘soul’ intact.
Dhankhar’s statement gave the impression that he does not subscribe to the Kesavananda Bharati case verdict to the effect that Parliament can amend the Constitution but not its basic structure. Dhankhar asserted that parliamentary sovereignty and autonomy were quintessential for the survival of democracy and could not be permitted to be compromised by the executive or judiciary. He had also said in Jaipur on January 14 that judiciary can not intervene in lawmaking.
The CJI last week also said that the Constitution allows the state to change and evolve its legal and economic policies to meet societal demands. “If you look at the Constitution, it does not favour unbounded economic liberalism. Rather, the Constitution seeks to find the right balance,” he had said.