Sunday, October 18, 2015

Arun Jaitley's intemperate comment

Arun Jaitley who is the Finance Minister and not the Law Minister is pained by the Supreme Court decision on NJAC. He has referred to the basic structure of the Constitution, tyranny of the unelected and credibility of government appointees and in the process he is hoist with his own petard.

1) Basic Structure: Jaitley's argument is that the court is concerned only with one structure namely independence of the judiciary and the court has 'rubbished' five other basic structures namely parliamentary democracy, elected government, council of ministers, elected prime minister and elected leader of opposition.
Here the minister has mischievously interpreted the judgment as an assault on the parliament and the government whereas the judgment is primarily a reiteration of judicial independence. It is unreasonable for the executive to poke its nose into judiciary and claim it as a Constitutional right.
Is the minister arguing that whatever is done by the executive or the legislature, the judiciary should only silently watch? Is not interpretation of law the sole prerogative of the judiciary?

2) Elected and unelected: Judiciary, executive and legislature have their respective domains. Being elected does not bestow any extraordinary status. Unelected does not mean subordinate. The fact that Arun Jaitley lost in the parliamentary election does not demean him anyway. It is not prudent on his part to rake up this needless controversy.

3) Credibility of government appointees: Jaitley argues that government appointees like CAG and Election Commissioners are credible. Has he forgotten the issues raised by him when a particular person was appointed as CVC?

The government has every right to appeal against the judgment. But it has no right to decry it in a controversial manner. If the government wants the Supreme Court to support whatever it does, it means that the government is not in favour of independent judiciary. That indeed is the issue here.

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