Defending Parliament’s authority to frame laws, the Supreme Court said today that an insult to Parliament is an insult to the country and that the top court will never be party to a plea in which Parliamentarians have been called corrupt and criminal.
As it threw out a lawyer’s petition challenging the validity of the new National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), a Constitution Bench, headed by Justice J S Khehar, said that it was only concerned about the constitutional issues involved in the challenge to the new law and it would not let anyone insult parliamentarians.
The court held that the proceedings were not meant to be a “political platform” for anybody and they must confine to the “serious issues of law” relating to the validity of the new law.
“We will not let anyone malign any other institution or people, least of them being the Parliament and parliamentarians. We have to show respect to them. They are our representatives. They are the representatives of the people and they have to be respected,” said the Bench, also comprising Justices J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh K Goel.
“This court will never be a party to a petition, prayer of which is of the nature that calls our parliamentarians as criminals. We can never let it pass off just like that. It is an insult to the Parliament and it is an insult to our country. We cannot allow anyone to malign our representatives,” added the Bench.
The Court maintained that it was open to hearing all kinds of legal arguments that sought to establish how the new law was unconstitutional or how the NJAC violated the basic structure of the Constitution but it would not permit any party to attack the Parliament and the lawmakers for framing this law.
The Bench made these observations as it took up for examining advocate M L Sharma’s petition, which had sought quashing of the parliamentary procedure adopted to pass the Constitutional amendment and the NJAC Act. Sharma is one of the petitioners in a batch of cases that have raised legal challenges to the NJAC. In his petition, Sharma had described Members of Parliament as “in-house criminals” and alleged that the lawmakers unabashedly violated parliamentary procedure and rules in their anxiety to pass the new law.
The Bench found the petition “unacceptable” and told Sharma: “You cannot malign our politicians and call them corrupt. You cannot say that corrupt politicians have framed this law. This is a very serious allegation and we cannot allow you to do so. How can say all this when we are hearing such a serious matter?”
The Bench said that accusations of this nature would never be allowed to become a part of the proceedings on the NJAC. At this, Sharma sought to amend his petition by removing the contentious words used against the Parliament but the bench turned down his request.
It not only dismissed his petition but also issued a show-cause notice to Sharma, seeking his reply in a week as to why he should not be barred from appearing in the PILs in the wake of “irresponsible and scandalous” statements made in his petition.
Meanwhile, the Bench also sought to know from the government in what manner the two “eminent persons,” who will be the members of the six-member NJAC, will be made “accountable” to the appointments. A pertinent provision of the NJAC Act has stated that the NJAC members will be “accountable” to the appointments of judges. This is in addition to another question by the Bench as to what according to the government should be the criteria to select “eminent persons” and whether they would be as equipped as judges to make appointments.
Further, the government, which will Tuesday start its arguments on the defence of the NJAC, has been asked by the Court to list how many persons with “doubtful integrity” have ever been appointed as judges in high courts and the top court by the collegium.