Newly appointed Rajya Sabha chairperson Jagdeep Dhankhar in his maiden speech in the House on Wednesday criticised the judiciary for scrapping the NJAC bill, terming it as an instance of "severe compromise of parliamentary sovereignty", and said the government's three organs should respect the "Laxman Rekha".
Asserting that the NJAC bill had "unprecedented" support of Parliament and members "unanimously" voted in its favour, he said there is "no parallel to such a development in democratic history where a duly legitimised constitutional prescription has been judicially undone".
Democracy blossoms and flourishes when its three facets -- the legislature, the judiciary and the executive -- scrupulously adhere to their respective domains, Dhankhar said, adding that the doctrine of separation of powers must be respected. He said that "any incursion by one institution, in the domain of the other, has the potential to upset the governance apple cart".
Referring to the 99th Constitutional amendment Bill that entailed the formation of the NJAC, he said the "historic" parliamentary mandate on it was "undone by the Supreme Court on October 16, 2015 by a majority of 4:1 finding the same as not being in consonance with the judicially evolved doctrine of 'Basic Structure' of the Constitution". Dhankhar's remarks also come in the backdrop of recent run-ins between the government and the judiciary over the appointment of judges.
It is an institutional seamleconnectionect marked with mutual trust and respect that generates an ecosystem best suited for serving the nation, Dhankhar stressed. "This House needs to catalyse this wholesome environment to promote synergic functioning of constitutional institutions, emphasising the need to respect Laxman Rekha," he said.
"On August 13, 2014, Lok Sabha unanimously voted in its favour with there being no abstention. This House too, passed it unanimously on August 14, 2014, with one abstention. Rarely in parliamentary democracy, there has been such massive support for Constitutional legislation," Dhankhar said.
Talking about the Supreme Court's order, the vice president said this was a "glaring instance of severe compromise of parliamentary sovereignty and disregard of the mandate of the people of which this House and the Lok Sabha are custodians".
VP Dhankhar also noted that it is disconcerting that on "such a momentous issue, so vital to democratic fabric, there has been no focus in Parliament, now for over seven years". "This House, in concert with the Lok Sabha, being custodian of the ordainment of the people, is duty bound to address the issue, and I am sure it will do so," he said.