Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar Wednesday said it would be difficult to answer the question “are we a democratic nation”, citing the Supreme Court’s decision in the Kesavananda Bharati case in 1973, when it said the Parliament had the authority to amend the Constitution, but not its basic structure.
In his inaugural address at the 83rd All-India Presiding Officers Conference in Jaipur, Dhankhar raised the issue of the judiciary’s powers in relation to the legislature, citing the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision to strike down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014. He stated that he raised the issue in his inaugural address as Rajya Sabha chairman in 2022.
He said that “Parliamentary sovereignty and autonomy cannot be permitted to be qualified or compromised as it is quintessential to the survival of democracy.” He said as the legislature did not have the power to write judicial orders, the executive and judiciary did not have the authority to legislate.
Earlier, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla spoke of the importance of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary respecting each other. He said the legislatures had always respected the powers and authority of the judiciary, and the judiciary was expected to follow the separation of powers mandated by the Constitution. He said the three branches should work with mutual trust and harmony.
Later, the conference will deliberate on India’s leadership of the G-20 and its role as the “mother of democracy”, and maintaining a harmonious relationship between the judiciary and legislature.