Leading lawmakers, who are also practitioners of law, have welcomed the Supreme Court verdict upholding Parliament’s right to expel MPs for misconduct. The consensus is that the judgement will be a deterrent against bad conduct. Leading the pack, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee told a news agency in Kolkata that he welcomed the “milestone judgement.”
A barrister himself, he said he had the highest respect for judiciary. But he felt that judicial review of powers of Parliament was debatable, barring exceptional cases. For enabling independent functioning of the organs of the state, there should be a “Lakshman Rekha”, he said. At the same time, he maintained that MPs should strive to be a role model and not behave in manner unbecoming of their position.
Congress leader Abhiskekh Manu Singhvi — another of those individuals straddling the two worlds of law and politics — said the judgment reflects a reasonable balance between individual rights and legislative privileges. The verdict should not be “misread” to mean that the Constitution never has any residual powers in extreme situations or for patent violations of the Constitution. Equally, the judgment upholds, for the first time, expulsion as a fair exercise of legislative freedom, he added.
Welcoming the judgement that “reiterates the Parliamentary supremacy in such matters”, Rajya Sabha MP and lawyer Ravi Shankar Prasad wanted the court to lay down proper parameters defining conduct of MPs that might warrant expulsion. Such parameters, he said, should be laid down in consultation with all political parties.
Union Minister Kapil Sibal, who is also a leading Supreme Court advocate, referred to the verdict as a “benchmark order” and said it established the supremacy of the “will of the people”. He saw the judgment as a “good signal” for democracy. Stating that his party had already responded on the issue, the star lawyer in BJP’s ranks, Arun Jaitley, refused to comment.