Ban on firecrackers an example of judicial overreach: Venkaiah Naidu
Labelling the recent ban on firecrackers an example of judicial overreach, Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday set the tone of the 80th All India Presiding Officers’ Conference that will discuss “harmonious coordination between legislature, executive and judiciary”. Naidu reminded the conference that the Constitution has “demarcated clear domains for each of these three organs on the lines of separation of powers” and said “harmony lies in each organ doing its job without interfering with that of the others”.
President of India Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the two-day session—marking his first physical participation at a public event after over eight months—here in Gujarat. Under the chairmanship of Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, the event will see a series of working sessions before Prime Minister of India addresses it on Thursday.
Naidu acknowledged that the Supreme Court and high courts have delivered several “far-reaching verdicts in furtherance of socio-economic objectives” apart from their correctional interventions. “But occasionally, concerns have been raised as to whether they were entering the domains of the legislative and the executive wings,” he said.
“There have been debates as to whether some issues should have been more legitimately left to the other organs of the government. For example, Deepavali fireworks; cess on registration and movement of vehicles from the National Capital Region through Delhi; banning use of vehicles of certain make after 10 or 15 years; monitoring police investigations; denying the executive any role in the appointment of judges by instituting collegium which is said to be an extra-constitutional body; invalidating the National Judicial Accountability Commission Act seeking to ensure transparency and accountability are being cited as instances of judicial over reach,” he said, implying that the legislative should have been given space to act on these issues.
The National Green Tribunal—the Supreme Court’s environment arm—clamped a blanket ban on firecrackers in Delhi, its surrounding areas and cities with poor air quality. The court, however, allowed the sale and use of green crackers.
Naidu argued that to be in its best state, India should have its the three organs of the ‘State’ performing “to the best of its potential in the domain specified for each of them, in pursuit of the mandate defined in the Constitution”.
To be sure, Naidu also spoke about legislative and executive excesses such as rules under subordinate legislation violating provisions of original legislation and how violation of people’s rights and liberties by the executive is. at times, “too visible for comfort.”
He also mentioned 39th amendment to the Constitution placing the election of President, Vice-President and Prime Minister beyond the scope of judicial scrutiny as legislative over activism.
A harmonious relationship between three wings of the Indian state “warrants a spirit of mutual respect, responsibility and restraint. Unfortunately, there have been several instances of crossing the boundaries,” Naidu added.
Senior advocate Raj Panjwani told HT, “Legislature has the entire space to correct all wrongs or actions detrimental to society. The role of the judiciary is limited to testing the legality and competence of legislative and executive actions. The problem begins when the legislature fails to correct the wrongs that are a threat to the society at large and also to an individual’s fundamental rights. It is in this scenario, due to failure of the legislature as well as executive to take prompt and appropriate action, in particular with issues concerning the environment, the Constitution empowers the judiciary to step in and fill the vacuum caused by this inaction.”