Appointment Of Judges : The Executive Must Have The Final Say

The Prime Minister is keeping quiet and he is not giving out his mind as to what his view is on most matters. Probably he is still in the process of making up his mind or he likes to keep his own counsel. Nevertheless, a few matters which are in the public domain need to be addressed. First of all, some incidents have taken place at various places by which, either by design or accidently, the minorities are affected. One Shiv Sena MP in Maharashtra Sadan misbehaved with a catering supervisor. Now even if that person was not from the minority, an MP should not misbehave with junior staff. There is a procedure: if he is not happy, he should put in a complaint. But this belligerence or this belligerent behaviour on the part of MPs does not augur well for a democracy. Since these people have come to power, I can understand that the fringe Hindu fanatics have felt emboldened, but that does not give them the right to spoil the cultural ethos or the discipline that has been inculcated over the years. The Maharashtra Sadan or the Sadans of the different States are places where MPs and important visitors from those States come and stay. They have to be run like proper guest houses. It cannot be brought down to a brawl because the food is not of good quality or somebody has behaved or misbehaved. MPs must remain within their limits if they want MPs to be respected by the public in general. How the ruling party or the Government will address this is up to them.
The second point: appointment of judges. Justice Katju has made some revelations which have come in the public domain. Again the issue is about appointment of judges. Nowhere in the world do judges appoint judges. This is the practice the Supreme Court adopted from 1993 by using an Article in the Constitution to interpret that the Government’s appointment in consultation with the Chief Justice is concurrence. And now they say a collegium will decide and that has been followed from the last 21 years. It is totally wrong. This Government should have the courage to reverse this. It is the executive which must have the final say in the appointment of judges — that is done all over the world in all democracies. Yes, to avoid the subjective elements there can be a procedure, there can be a collegium of retired judges or there can be an advisory board or judicial appointment court, whatever the procedure. But the final appointment has to be by the executive, not by the judiciary. Unfortunately, over the last 20 years, slowly the Government has been giving up its power and the judiciary or other people fill up the vacuum. A vacuum does not remain a vacuum, somebody fills up the vacuum. The executive must again take power in its hands. It is not a question of this Government or that Government. Government is a continuing entity. Similarly we saw lots of other things happening. First they said Parliament is going to be curtailed then it came that it is not being curtailed. The Finance Bill had already been passed. So unless they had business what was Parliament doing for the next two weeks? Just because you have announced the session, if there is no business the session has to be adjourned. And if there is a business then unless a bipartisan dialogue is opened with the Congress party and other opposition parties, Bills cannot get passed, because a Bill has to be passed by both Houses of Parliament. Unlike the Finance Bill which the Lok Sabha can pass or a Constitutional Amendment which needs both Houses’ two-thirds majority, which of course cannot happen. We know the Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu was more busy getting houses vacated (he has also got the Urban Development Ministry portfolio). He was more interested in MPs who have lost and Ministers who have lost vacating their bungalows. Again, the Supreme Court has taken up the matter and said that Ministers should vacate their bungalows. Is it the job of the Supreme Court? It is a very minor matter. Whether some Minister is overstaying or not overstaying is for the executive, for the Parliamentary Housing Committee, not for the Supreme Court. Of course, an aggrieved party can go to the court. Here the Supreme Court suo motu passes an order and under the guise of that order Venkaiah Naidu takes strong steps to insult his colleagues who have lost elections or who have not stood for elections. It is not done, it does not augur well. It is a sign of a weak Government, not a strong Government. As I said, we still do not know what the Prime Minister thinks, what is the Prime Minister’s direction to these people.
The next issue is foreign policy. The External Affairs Minister paid a visit to Nepal, the Prime Minister is now going there. It is not easy. Nepal is a neighbour and relations with Nepal are very critical. I hope the Prime Minister will be correctly advised and we should not complicate the issue with Nepal. There is a changing political situation there which is very difficult to handle. They have not got their act together. They have not been able even to frame a proper Constitution. India should directly and indirectly help them to make a Constitution of their own choice. Of course, they are a sovereign country, we cannot interfere beyond a point, but as a good neighbour with long experience in democracy we can certainly help them to put together a Constitution which can work.
On Independence Day people are saying the Prime Minister is going to make a speech that is not for the occasion. Independence Day is an occasion on which the Prime Minister gives a speech to the nation. He has to talk of the long term, not of the small things. So that is not the occasion where he can address issues like MPs misbehaving in Maharashtra Sadan or some corrupt judge being promoted — those are not the issues. Even if there are grievances or complaints against the previous
Government, Independence Day is not the right occasion. The ramparts of the Red Fort are not the right platform from which to address them. There, he has to address the whole nation in
a sweep as to what his view is over the next five years. That is the occasion for the Prime Minister to come into his own and
to let the people know what his vision of India is. Let us hope it happens.

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