The evolution of the Constitution has to take place in Parliament and no other “super body" or institution, including the judiciary and the executive, has any role in it, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar said on Sunday.
It is the primacy of the Constitution that determines the stability, harmony and productivity of democratic governance and Parliament, reflecting the mandate of the people, is the ultimate and exclusive architect of the Constitution, he said.
Dhankhar’s remarks, made at the release of a memoir of former Tamil Nadu governor P S Ramamohan Rao, came a day after Law Minister Kiren Rijiju invoked the constitutional “Lakshman Rekha" guiding different institutions, including the executive and the judiciary.
The vice president said, “A constitution has to evolve from the people through Parliament, not from the executive. The executive has no role in evolving the Constitution and no other institution, including judiciary." He further stressed, “The Constitution evolution has to take place in Parliament and there can be no super body to look into that…it has to end with Parliament." The vice president said he was making the statement “without fear of contradiction (and) having studied constituent assembly debates and examined constitutions of countries where democracy blossoms and flourishes".
Addressing the event at the Parliament House Complex, he said that in democracy, dynamics of governance will always be challenging requiring “harmonious functioning of constitutional institutions".
“The legislature, the executive and the judiciary – there will always be issues and we shall never have a day when we can say henceforth, there will be no issues, because we are a dynamic society and it is bound to happen," he said.
But there is no room for confrontation or those heading these institutions becoming complainants, he underlined.
“Those who are heading the executive, the legislature or the judiciary, they cannot be complacent, they cannot act in confrontation. They have to act in collaboration and find resolution together," he added.
Dhankhar said there is a need for a “structured mechanism" amongst those at the helm of the legislature, the judiciary and the executive, and underlined that those who head these institutions cannot use their platforms for a dialogue with the other institution.
“Such structured mechanism of interaction will go a long way," he said.
The vice president said democratic values and public interests are “optimally served" when the legislature, the judiciary and the executive discharge their respective obligations “scrupulously confining to their domain and acting in harmony, togetherness and tandem." “This is quintessential. Any transgression of this will create a problem for democracy," he said, adding, “It is not being possessive about power. It is being possessive about powers given to us by the Constitution. And that is a challenge we all have to collectively face and harmoniously discharge." Rijiju’s “Lakshman Rekha" remark on the roles of the executive and the judiciary came in response to a question on the recent Supreme Court verdict on the selection of election commissioners and in reference to the collegium system of appointment of judges to higher courts.
Amid a tussle between the judiciary and the government over the appointment of judges of high courts and the Supreme Court, Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud on Saturday said not every system is perfect but the current collegium system is the “best" mechanism developed by the judiciary to maintain its independence.
Justice Chandrachud put up a stout defence of the collegium system of judges appointing judges to higher courts while speaking at the India Today Conclave, 2023, just hours after Law Minister Rijiju at the same forum again criticised the selection process, asserting that as per the Constitution the appointment of judges is the duty of the government.
Rijiju also said the appointment of judges was not a judicial work but “purely administrative in nature".
The minister felt that if judges got involved in administrative work, they would have to face criticism. He said the principle of justice will be compromised if a judge ends up hearing a matter of which he or she was a part.
“Suppose you are the chief justice or a judge. You are part of an administrative process that will come into question. The matter comes to your court. Can you deliver a judgment on a matter you were part of? The principle of justice itself will be compromised. That is why the Lakshman Rekha is very clear in the Constitution," Rijiju said.
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