Keshvananda Bharati case judgment was a bad precedent, I don’t subscribe to it: Jagdeep Dhankhar | India News


JAIPUR: At a time when there is a debate surrounding the role of the judiciary and the process of recruiting judges, the 83rd All India Presiding Officers’ Conference at Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha on Wednesday witnessed sensitive and significant deliberations on the subject. Jagdeep Dhankhar, vice-president and chairman of the Rajya Sabha, and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla made strong observations about ‘judicial overstep’ in legislative affairs and suggested that judges should refrain from legislating just like legislatures don’t pass judgments and discuss them.
Dhankhar, in fact, took a step forward from his previous objections to the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the NJAC Act, saying that the Keshvananda Bharati case judgment in 1973 set a bad precedence. The Vice President said that he doesn’t subscribe to the judgment, which said that the Parliament can’t change the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution and the Supreme Court will be the final authority in this regard.
“It was in 1973, in the Kesavananda Bharati case, the Supreme Court evolved for the first time, the right of the courts to strike down constitutional amendments that violated what it called the “Basic Structure”, or the fundamental architecture of the Constitution. In subsequent years, the highest court delivered significant rulings on matters that it held pivotal to this “Basic Structure” and in the process parliamentary sovereignty was compromised,” Dhankhar said and added, “The Supreme Court judgment in the Keshwananda Bharati case was a bad precedence. I don’t subscribe to that.”
The observations made by the Vice-President about the role of judiciary and also frequent references to the SC judgment of striking down the NJAC Act passed by both houses of the Parliament might be a precursor to the government’s yet another possible bid to replace the existing collegium system of judicial selections.
Dhankhar said that in a democratic society, ‘the basic’ of any ‘basic structure’ has to be the supremacy of the mandate of people. “Thus the primacy and sovereignty of Parliament and legislature is inviolable,” he added.
The Vice-President said that all constitutional institutions – the judiciary, the executive and the legislature – are required to confine to their respective domains and conform to the highest standard of propriety and decorum. “The current scenario on this count calls for serious attention by all concerned particularly those at the helm of these institutions,” he added.
He said that the power of the Parliament to amend the constitution and deal with legislation is not subject to any other authority.
“This is the lifeline of a democracy. I am sure this will engage your thoughtful consideration,” said Dhankhar as he referred to one of the key issues — the need to maintain a harmonious relationship between the legislature and judiciary in accordance with the spirit of the constitution — to be discussed by the presiding officers.
Om Birla also referred to the subject briefly saying that the judiciary should respect the sanctity of the legislative bodies.

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