Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar asserted in his maiden address as ex-officio Chairperson of Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that parliamentary sovereignty is inviolable, even as he chastised the Supreme Court for quashing this same law duly passed by the legislature and 16 state assemblies to form the National Judicial Committee for the appointment of judges. He also used harsh language to convey his displeasure with regular disturbances in the House that impair work.
Dhankar emphasized the importance of the three sides of democracy not crossing the Lakshman Rekha, saying the Supreme Court ruling on the NJC issue should be reviewed.
“There is no parallel in democratic history to such a development where a duly legitimised constitutional prescribing has been judicially undone, a glaring example of severe compromise on parliamentary sovereignty and disregard for the mandate of the people, of which this House and the Lok Sabha are custodians,” he said.
He claimed that parliament reflects the people’s mandate, and so its judgement on the fundamental framework of the Constitution should prevail.
Referring to the 99th Constitution (Amendment) Bill as a “much-needed historic step,” he said the legislation had received unprecedented support in Parliament, with Lok Sabha passing it unanimously in August 2014, followed by Rajya Sabha passing it with one abstention and the entire House in support. The Bill had been ratified by 16 of the 29 state legislatures, and the President had given his approval.
“This historic parliamentary mandate was undone by the Supreme Court on Oct. 16, 2015 by a most of of 4:1 finding the same as not being in consonance with the judicial process doctrine of basic structure of the Constitution,” he said, bemoaning the fact that seven years have passed and Parliament has not acted.
The architecture of the Constitution is solely and ultimately determined by Parliament. It is troubling to notice that there has been no attention in Parliament for nearly seven years on such an important subject, so crucial to the democratic fabric. This House, in collaboration with the Lok Sabha, as custodian of the people’s will, is duty-bound to solve the matter, and I am confident it will,” Dhankar added.
The Vice President also asked members to work together to ensure the smooth running of business, citing the example of Constituent Assembly discussions that were conducted with decorum.
“”The Constituent Assembly tackled delicate, complicated, and crucial subjects with sublimity, engaged in talks, debates, deliberations, and debate characterised by a cooperative and collaborative approach.” Diverse problems were addressed without any interruption or rancour. Obstruction and disruption of legislative proceedings are choices that are diametrically opposed to democratic principles. The current scenario on this count is concerning, and it is critical that we adhere to the high standards established by the Constituent Assembly,” he said.