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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

PM Modi’s comment on ‘boundaries’: 5 controversies between executive, judiciary

Five instances of recent times where the executive and the judiciary disagreed with each other.

india Updated: Nov 27, 2017 14:47 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Supreme Court disagrees with the government on how judges should be appointed.
The Supreme Court disagrees with the government on how judges should be appointed.(Pradeep Gaur/ Mint file photo)

The legislature, the executive, and the judiciary should respect “boundaries” laid out in the Constitution and work together to strengthen Indian democracy. This comment by Prime Minister Narendra Modi may again get people talking about the executive and the judiciary disagreeing over crucial issues.

Modi’s comment comes at a time when the government and the judiciary are locked in a long-running debate over so-called judicial activism. Here are five instances of recent times where the executive and the judiciary disagreed with each other.

Right to privacy: The Supreme Court (SC) in August 2017 ruled individual privacy is a “guaranteed fundamental right”, a verdict that could test the validity of Aadhaar, the controversial biometric identification project the government has been pushing but critics have opposed as intrusive. The government had argued citizens have a right to privacy but it is not an absolute right.

Appointment of judges: The SC and the government have been at loggerheads over how to appoint judges. In 2015, the court struck down a law the government brought--the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act--to end a more than 20-year-old practice of judges appointing judges under a collegium system. The court asked the government to draft a so-called new Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) to lay down guidelines for appointments to the higher judiciary in consultation with the chief justice of India and the collegium. But the two sides have failed to agree on it.

SC scraps 2G spectrum, coal block allocations: The SC in 2011 cancelled 122 licences for 2G spectrum granted in January 2008, saying they were issued in a “totally arbitrary and unconstitutional” manner. The government should have auctioned spectrum instead of using a flawed first-come, first-served policy, it said. The judgment dented the UPA goverment’s image, embarrassing it before the 2014 elections. The SC in 2014 scrapped all but four of 218 coal blocks allocated by the government over the past two decades, saying that licences to operate them were illegal and arbitrary.

SC strikes down PJ Thomas’s appointment as CVC: The Supreme Court struck down in 2011 the appointment of civil servant PJ Thomas as Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC), embarrassing the United Progressive Alliance government. The court removed Thomas because he was an accused in a corruption case, saying a person who will be CVC should be without blemish. It criticised a high-powered committee, which was headed by then prime minister Manmohan Singh, that had cleared Thomas’s appointment.

Powers of the legislature: A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court ruled 4-1 in the cash for-query case that as a legislative body, the Parliament has rights but its actions must adhere to the basic structure of the Constitution. Any trespass can be struck down, the court said in 2007. A nine-member bench of the court decided 9-0 that all laws put in the ninth schedule of the Constitution, to avoid judicial intervention, will now be open to examination if they violated fundamental rights.The court gave the two decisions while hearing petitions by MPs who had challenged their expulsion from Parliament, India Today reports.

First Published: Nov 27, 2017 14:46 IST