Jaipur: The All India Presiding Officers Conference began in Jaipur on Wednesday with concerns on lack of decorum and discipline of legislative houses and unwanted incursion of the judiciary in working of the legislature. Vice-President and Chairman of Rajya Sabha Jagdeep Dhankhar raised serious objections to this and said, “Parliamentary sovereignty cannot be permitted to be diluted or compromised by the executive or the judiciary.” Speaker of Lok Sabha Om Birla also echoed the same and said, “The judiciary should also adhere to the limits and be expected to use the powers constitutionally given to it.
Inaugurating the conference Mr Dhankhar strongly objected to the right of the courts to strike down constitutional amendments that violated the “basic structure”, or the fundamental architecture of the Constitution.
Citing the judgment of the Supreme Court on the 99th Constitution Amendment Act, 2014, and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014, Mr Dhankhar said “History of sorts was created in the Parliament with respect to the NJAC. There was complete unanimity in the Lok Sabha. The House voted in unison in favor of the amendment. In Rajya Sabha, there was unanimity except for one abstention. Sixteen state legislatures ratified it. This exercise crystallised into constitutional prescription with the President’s assent under Article 111 of the Constitution. But this was undone by the judiciary. Such a scenario is perhaps unparalleled in the democratic history of the world.”
Mr Dhankhar said Parliamentary sovereignty and autonomy cannot be permitted to be qualified or compromised as it is quintessential to the survival of democracy. “It must be remembered that the Constitution never envisaged a Third and Superior Chamber for Parliament to grant approval to the legislations passed by the two houses.”
He also expressed concern over lack of decorum and discipline in Parliament and legislatures and said the current scenario is indeed a cause for concern. “There is a continual diminishing of respect in public for Parliament and Legislatures and their representatives. There could not be more urgency for being in correctional mode.”
Mr Birla also urged the judiciary to confine to its limits prescribed in the Constitution and said the legislature always respected the judiciary but it is expected to use the powers constitutionally given to it.
Expressing concern over the behavior of members of the houses Birla said it is a matter of concern that even after 75 years of independence we talk about the decorum and dignity of the members of the houses. He urged parliamentarians to work to build confidence of the people. “We are mandated to make laws for people and it needs deliberations. The more we discuss and deliberate, the better the laws will come out,” said Mr Birla.
Speaker of Rajasthan Vidhan Sbha CP Joshi demanded financial autonomy to the legislative assembly. He said as Speakers we are helpless and our role is only of referees and that too only after the house is convened.
Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot, Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha Harivansh, and leader of Opposition in Rajasthan Assembly Gulab Chand Kataria also addressed the session.
The two-day conference of the presiding officers of legislative assemblies aims at discussing issues pertaining to leadership of India in G-20 as the mother of democracy; need to make Parliament and legislatures more effective, accountable and productive, integration of state legislatures with digital Parliament; and the need to maintain a harmonious relationship between the legislature and the judiciary in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution.