Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Editorial, UNWARRANTED OVERREACH, in LAW ANIMATED WORLD, 31 October 2015 issue, Vol. 11, Part 2, No. 20

Certainly it is, to say the least, though there have been even stronger opinions expressed on the same, that in other developed democracies such is unthinkable and could be taken as nothing short of a judicial coup d'├ętat – the decision of the Apex Court striking down the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act setting up a National Judicial Appointments Commission, passed with voice vote or big majority in both the Houses of the Parliament – there was a general consensus supporting the bill inside and outside the Houses in the entire country, and then ratified by about 16 State Legislatures in the country, on the ground of what is taken by a body of five unelected, non-representative ‘cloistered virtues’ as an onslaught on ‘independence of judiciary’, deserves and needs stringent condemnation by all progressive, democratic people of the country. Because of the general degradation and disgrace to which the other two wings of the State fell in the 1960s and their continuance in such misery, this third wing, especially due to the great contributions of eminent persons like Bhagwati, Krishna Iyer, Chinnappa Reddy, et al, appointed as Judges in the non-Collegium times, has attained an unprecedented preeminence and popularity among the people, which was used step by step to unjustly encroach upon the spheres of the other two wings of the State – striking at the doctrine and system of separation of powers which is yet another basic feature of our Constitution and this lamentable decision is a near climax to such process of degrading democracy. Creating an unheard of collegium system by a weird interpretation of the term 'consultation' in the Constitution to mean tantamount to 'concurrence' paving the way for arbitrary selections of judges by the judiciary, and even dynastic successions, and now restoring it, is acting like an ‘imperium in imperio’ against which our ‘founding fathers’ warned us during the constitution framing. Justice Chelameswar’s lone and sane dissent is to be much appreciated in this dark scenario. The people should widely protest and legislatures should strongly react to reverse this undemocratic measure by introducing a sort of election for or at least ratification of Judges’ appointments by the parliamentary bodies. If inevitable, a new Constituent Assembly may be convened to entirely overhaul or construct anew our constitutional edifice. §§§

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