Drawing a line between the judiciary and the executive, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Thursday that courts cannot perform the functions of the executive and that the independence of the two will have to be strictly maintained.
Jaitley said if the executive failed to perform its function, the courts could direct it to do so, but they could take over the executive function.
Speaking at the ‘Indian of the Year 2015’ awards of CNN News 18, he said if the judiciary failed to act, the executive could take up that role on the plea that there are mounting pending cases. Similarly, courts also cannot take over the executive function.
“Let’s first of all be clear about two basic facts. Fact one, the independence of judiciary is certainly required and must be maintained at all cost. Fact two, the judiciary unquestionably has the power of judicial review. I don’t think anybody has the power to dispute that. It is essential for democracy,” he said.
Stating that the argument that judiciary steps in when executive does not act was a “questionable proposition, he said: “when the executive does not act judiciary can tell and direct the executive to act. But the judiciary cannot perform executive function. Executive function has to be performed by executives”.
Jaitley, who also holds the charge of Information and Broadcasting Ministry, said just as independence of judiciary was essential, so was separation of powers.
“The Parliamentary function has to be performed by Parliament, nobody else can pass or approve a Budget. The executive function has to be performed by the executives. Courts cannot perform an executive function. It can direct the executive to perform its function, if it is not acting,” he said.
Jaitley’s comments came close on the heels of Chief Justice of India T S Thakur asserting that judiciary intervened only when the executive failed in its constitutional duties.
The CJI also said: “the government should do its job instead of hurling accusations and that the people turn to the courts only after they are let down by the executive.”