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SC, Somnath: A meeting of minds

india Updated: Dec 24, 2007 03:09 IST
Satya Prakash
Satya Prakash
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Cutting across political lines, leaders welcomed the recent Supreme Court judgment against judicial overreach. However, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has more reasons to cheer than the rest.

The views expressed by Justices AK Mathur and Markandey Katju in the controversial judgment are strikingly similar to those of the Speaker; the judges have used almost exactly the same words and sentences.

So much so, that the two most controversial parts of the verdict and two paragraphs of a speech delivered by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee a few months back match almost verbatim.

Paragraphs 26 and 28 of the judgment and the two paragraphs of the Dr KN Katju Memorial Lecture delivered by Chatterjee here on April 26 this year, barring a few words, are the same.

Chatterjee’s speech has been published in Volume XXXV of the Bar Association of India's journal The Indian Advocate.

The judgment and the Speakers words are as follows.

Para-26 of the judgment dated December 6, 2007: “Recently, the Courts have apparently, if not clearly, strayed into the executive domain or in matters of policy. For instance, the orders passed by the High Court of Delhi in recent times dealt with subjects ranging from age and other criteria for nursery admissions, unauthorised schools, criteria for free seats in schools, supply of drinking water in schools, number of free beds in hospitals on public land, use and misuse of ambulances, requirements for establishing a world class burns ward in the hospital, the kind of air Delhiites breathe, begging in public, the use of sub-ways, the nature of buses we board, the legality of constructions in Delhi, identifying the buildings to be demolished, the size of speed-breakers on Delhi roads, auto-rickshaw over-charging, growing frequency of road accidents and enhancing of road fines etc.”

Parts of the Dr K N Katju Memorial Lecture delivered by Chatterjee on April 26, 2007, published on pages 6 and 7 of the BAI journal: “Recently, a media correspondent has compiled a list of issues and matters in which the Courts have apparently, if not clearly, strayed into the executive domain or in matters of policy. For instance, the orders passed by the High Court of Delhi in recent times dealt with subjects ranging from age and other criteria for nursery admissions, unauthorised schools, criteria for free seats in schools, supply of drinking water in schools, number of free beds in hospitals on public land, use and misuse of ambulances, requirements for establishing a world class burns ward in the hospital, the kind of air Delhiites breathe, begging in public, the use of sub-ways, the nature of buses we board, the legality of constructions in Delhi, identifying the buildings to be demolished, the size of speed-breakers on Delhi roads, auto-rickshaw over-charging,, growing frequency of road accidents and enhancing of road fines.”

Para-28 of the judgment: "The Jagadambika Pal’s case of 1998, involving the U.P. Legislative Assembly, and the Jharkhand Assembly case of 2005, are two glaring examples of deviations from the clearly provided constitutional scheme of separation of powers. The interim orders of this court, as is widely accepted, upset the delicate constitutional balance among the Judiciary, Legislature and the Executive, and was described (by) Hon. Mr JS Verma, the former CJI, as judicial aberrations, which he hoped that the Supreme Court will soon correct."

Parts of the Dr K N Katju Memorial Lecture delivered by Chatterjee on April 26 2007 published on page 7 of the BAI journal: "The Jagadambika Pal's case of 1998, involving the U.P. Legislative Assembly, and the Jharkhand Assembly case of 2005, two my mind, are two glaring examples of deviations from the clearly provided constitutional scheme of separation of powers. The interim orders of this court, to my mind, upset the delicate constitutional balance between the Judiciary and the Legislature… Chief Justice Verma has recently described the orders in UP and Jkharkhand cases as judicial aberrations and has expressed his hope that the Supreme Court will soon correct them."