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Courts should not cross limits: Chatterjee
March 20, 2005 15:33 IST
Last Updated: March 20, 2005 17:35 IST
A day-long 'Emergent Conference of Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies in India' on Sunday expressed concern over court orders that tend to disturb the delicate balance of power between the judiciary and the legislature.
The conference, which was boycotted by speakers from the National Democratic Alliance-ruled states, also asked the courts not to transgress into areas assigned to the legislature by the constitution.
A unanimous resolution passed at the meeting, convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee in the backdrop of the Supreme Court order on Jharkhand, also said it is imperative to maintain harmonious relations between the legislatures and the judiciary.
Chatterjee sought to downplay the absence of BJP speakers saying he had full confidence in all presiding officers.
Significantly, the conference was attended by Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal of the Bharatiya Janata Party ally Akali Dal.
Tamil Nadu Speaker K Kalimuthu of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam stayed away.
The NDA had virtually asked its speakers not to attend the meeting in the wake of Chatterjee's suggestion for a Presidential Reference on the SC's March nine order advancing the trial of strength in the Jharkhand assembly and video graphing the proceedings.
Chatterjee's refrain in his inaugural speech and later at the press briefing was 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 SC order.
Answering questions, Chatterjee said the courts and the legislatures were supreme in their areas as delineated in the Constitution.
"While the legislatures should not cross the 'Laxman Rekha' (limits set in the Constitution), similarly we feel all the organs of the Constitution should not cross the limits," he said.
Asked about some of the questions he said had arisen out of the SC order, like whether the Pro-tem Speaker attracted the contempt of Supreme Court or whether the Jharkhand Assembly members were liable to follow the order, he said these questions only showed that the apex court order was 'unimplementable'.
"The solution to the Jharkhand matter came not from the court's order but by the executive decision of the prime minister," he said.
To a question, he said the March nine order could not be a precedent because it was an interim order passed ex-parte.
Earlier, inaugurating the conference he said the SC's interim order had violated one of the 'basic features' of the country's governance.
"The issues arising out of the interim order of the case are of such far-reaching ambit that if not reconsidered and if followed in future, it will upset the constitutional balance and the democratic functioning of the state as a whole," he said.
The SC order has got 'serious implications' whereby the contours of areas of supremacy of the two institutions -- Legislature and Judiciary -- have got distorted, he said.
"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," Chatterjee said.
Quoting Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar, who played a prominent role in drafting provisions relating to the judiciary in the Constitution, he said, "The doctrine of independence is not raised to the level of a dogma so as to enable the judiciary to function as a kind of super-legislature or super-executive."
The speaker told the Presiding Officers that it was 'our duty' as responsible constitutional functionaries to give serious thought to the issue for future harmonious working of different organs under the Constitution.
"My appeal to all is to consider this matter dispassionately only on the basis of the country's constitutional set-up without any reference whatsoever to any political controversy so that one of the most important basic features of the Constitution, namely, separation of powers, is not disturbed," Chatterjee said.
More reports from Delhi
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