DOES PARLIAMENT have the power to place a law -- which circumvents a court order -- under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution to prevent judicial review? Faced with this question, the Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to set up a nine-judge Constitution Bench to examine the issue.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal gave the order on a bunch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of several state laws brought under the Ninth Schedule by separate Acts passed by Parliament. The bench asked all the parties to submit their written submissions by September 27 and fixed October 9-13 for the hearing of the case.
The court will examine the legislative competence of Parliament to pass laws that circumvent its verdicts and put the same under the Ninth Schedule to prevent judicial review. A ruling in the case will have a bearing on several laws enacted by Parliament, including the one putting a one-year moratorium on demolitions and sealing of unauthorised property in Delhi.
Quota laws may be affected. One of the important laws under challenge is the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of seats in Educational Institutions and of appointment or posts in Services under the State) Act 1994 - for 69 per cent reservation in that state. The law was passed immediately after the Supreme Court verdict in the Mandal case which put a ceiling of 50 per cent on reservation in jobs.