'There is no law or Article in the Constitution that says the prime minister must inaugurate the new Parliament, but Article 79 of the Constitution says the President of India is the competent person.'
Advocate C R Jaya Sukin has filed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking a direction that the new Parliament building should be inaugurated by the President of India.
The move has come two days before Prime Minister Narendra D Modi is to inaugurate the grand building on Sunday, May 28, 2023.
Nearly 20 Opposition parties are boycotting the event because they too feel that President Droupadi Murmu, as the Constitutional head, should inaugurate the new Parliament building.
Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com spoke to advocate Jaya Sukin about his writ petition.
Why have you filed this writ petition against the prime minister of India inaugurating the new Parliament building on May 28?
That the President of India was not invited for the inauguration of the new Parliament building is not only a humiliation of the President of our country, but also a humiliation of the entire nation.
As an Indian citizen, I feel humiliated as the President of India is the head of the nation and the head of Parliament. By not inviting the President of India the entire nation is being humiliated, and I personally as an Indian citizen feel humiliated.
But earlier too different state assemblies have been inaugurated by the chief ministers of those states to which the governors were not invited. So what is wrong if the President is not invited to this event?
Chief minister, governor and the power of the President of India are different.
You cannot compare a governor with the President of India.
The governor of a state is not elected by the people's representatives but the President of India is elected by the people's representatives.
People's representatives -- members of Parliament -- are elected by the people of India and these people's representatives in turn elect the President of India.
A governor's post is an appointment while the President's post is different. The President is head of the nation. You cannot treat the governor and President of India's post on equal terms.
When the current Parliament annexe building was inaugurated it was done by then prime minister Indira Gandhi, so what is wrong if Prime Minister Modi inaugurates the new Parliament?
That was the annexe building. It was not a new Parliament.
The prime minister, speaker or deputy speaker or any Cabinet minister can inaugurate or open the new office in Parliament building, but not inaugurate the new Parliament.
Even a library building in Parliament was inaugurated by a then prime minister, isn't it?
Yes, that is fine. The prime minister of India can open a library or even a canteen in the Parliament building. It is a part of Parliament, but not a new Parliament.
Are you upset that President Murmu was not called for the event or that she should have inaugurated the new Parliament?
Parliament must be inaugurated by the President of India. I want the inauguration of Parliament to be done by the President of India.
Does the Constitution say anything on such issues? At the time of Independence there was no concept of a new Parliament, so what does the Constitution say?
No law says the prime minister should inaugurate a new Parliament, but Article 79 of the Constitution says the President of India is the head of Parliament (external link).
The prime minister is the head of the Executive and not the head of Parliament.
With just two days left for the inauguration, your PIL has come too late.
On May 18 they gave the notification and only yesterday (Wednesday, May 24, 2023) they sent out the invitations to high profile people and told them to attend the inauguration of the new Parliament. Yesterday, they confirmed Sunday's inauguration programme.
The Central Vista is Prime Minister Modi's dream project, so what is wrong if he inaugurates the new Parliament?
Central Vista is not the vision of Prime Minister Modi as it was planned long ago.
The old Parliament was not spacious and convenient.
Before 2014, the new Parliament building was decided upon. The project started before Narendra Modi became prime minister in 2014.
The Parliament of India is dedicated to the nation and not to the Bharatiya Janata Party or its people.
There is no law or Article in the Constitution that says the prime minister must inaugurate the new Parliament, but Article 79 of the Constitution says the President of India is the competent person (to do so).
But it is a done deal now. Even some Congress leaders say that if not the prime minister of India, will the PM of Pakistan inaugurate the new Parliament.
I am not going for political views as different political parties have different political views. I am only asking for the Lok Sabha secretariat to follow Article 79 of the Constitution.
Don't you feel your writ petition and Opposition parties boycotting the inauguration of Parliament reflect badly on our democracy? Does it not send wrong signal internationally?
The Union of India must take a consensus view of all the political parties before taking a decision.
Our next generation will talk about this matter saying the Union of India took a wrong decision by not consulting all political parties.
They should have taken all the parties together and taken a decision on the inauguration of the new Parliament.
The Lok Sabha secretariat took a wrong decision without consulting all political parties.
Asaduddin Owaisi said legally it is the Speaker of the Lok Sabha who should inaugurate the new Parliament and not the President of India. How far is he correct?
No, he is wrong. The Speaker is for the Lok Sabha and they do not have any rights in the Rajya Sabha. Therefore, he is not a competent person.