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Legislature, executive and judiciary should operate within their boundaries, says PM Modi

Addressing a gathering to mark the National Law Day, Narendra Modi said the three pillars of democracy are all members of one family and should work together to strengthen one another.

india Updated: Nov 26, 2017 22:34 IST
Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Narendra Modi,Prime Minister,National Law Day
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the valedictory session of the National Law Day in New Delhi on Sunday.(PTI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the legislature, the executive and the judiciary should respect “boundaries” laid out in the Constitution and work together to strengthen Indian democracy.

The comments come at a time when the government and the judiciary are locked in a long-running debate over so-called judicial activism, and a few minutes after law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra expressed differing views on the appointment of judges and public interest litigations (PIL).

“Today when we are talking about maintaining a balance between the three arms of the Constitution, we must remember that this balance is the backbone of the Constitution,” Modi said.

The balance had helped the country stay on the course of democracy even during Emergency, he added, addressing the valedictory session of the two-day National Law Day event.

To drive home the point, he quoted BR Ambedkar as saying, “Legislature should have the independence of making laws, the executive should have independence in taking decisions and Supreme Court should have the independence of interpreting the Constitution.”

Earlier, while addressing the same gathering, law minister Prasad said that PILs cannot be a substitute for governance. While the political class accepted the SC’s decision to strike down the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC), there should be an audit of quality of judges appointed since 1993, Prasad said.

“If a PM and law minister cannot be trusted with appointment of judges, it’s a huge question and judiciary and polity of his country will have to look into it,” he said.

The law minister was to be a member of the NJAC, proposed by the Modi government to replace the collegium system of appointing judges.

The CJI, who spoke after Prasad, said the Supreme Court believed in “constitutional sovereignty” and the power of judicial review was meant to strike a balance.

“We recognise, respect and accept the separation of powers,” the CJI said, adding the court had refused to hear several PILs as they dealt with policy matters or were in the legislative domain.

“We are not really interested to bring any kind of policy…But the moment the policies are formed, we are allowed to interpret and see that they are implemented,” he said.

While not participating in this debate directly, Modi said the Constitution was like the guardian of a family, with the government, judiciary and bureaucracy as its members. “…Are we, the members of the family, working according to the boundaries which the Constitution expects us to do?” he asked.

Political parties, he said, had come up with several self-regulatory provisions such as the model code of conduct ahead of elections. “Many laws have been passed in Parliament for transparency, propriety of the political system,” the PM said.

The Constitution Day, or the National Law Day, is celebrated to mark the day the statute was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949. The Constitution was fully adopted two months later on January 26, celebrated as Republic Day.

First Published: Nov 26, 2017 18:51 IST