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Monday, May 16, 2022

Maharashtra MLAs’ suspension ruling: In order, SC calls for statesmanship, not brinkmanship

The bench said that “aggression during debates has no place in the setting of (a) country governed by the Rule of Law”.

Written by Ananthakrishnan G | Delhi |
Updated: January 28, 2022 9:32:40 pm
The plea filed by advocate ML Sharma, who is one of the original petitioners in the case before the top court, said the deal was not approved by Parliament and, therefore, needs to be cancelled and money be recovered.

Friday’s Supreme Court judgment, holding the Maharashtra Assembly resolution suspending 12 BJP MLAs for one year as “unconstitutional”, also sought to highlight “popular sentiments” about conduct of business in Parliament and Legislative Assemblies. The court underlined that the need of the hour is “statesmanship, and not brinkmanship”.

Writing fo a three-judge bench, Justice A M Khanwilkar said the case has “thrown up an occasion for all concerned to ponder over the need to evolve and adhere to good practices befitting the august body; and appropriately denounce and discourage proponents of undemocratic activities in the House, by democratically elected (people’s) representatives”.

Pointing out that Parliament and state Assemblies are regarded as sacred places, the court said these are “places where robust and dispassionate debates and discussion inspired by the highest traditions of truth and righteousness ought to take place for resolving burning issues confronting the nation/State and for dispensing justice — political, social and economic”.

“The happenings in the House are (a) reflection of the contemporary societal fabric,” the court said. It said, “it is in public domain (through print, electronic and social media) that members of Parliament or Assembly/Council of the State spend much of the time in a hostile atmosphere”.

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“Parliament/Legislative Assembly are becoming more and more intransigent place,” the judgment noted. “The philosophical tenet — one must agree to disagree — is becoming a seldom-seen or a rarity during the debates. It has become common to hear that the House could not complete its usual scheduled business and most of the time had been spent in jeering and personal attacks…instead of erudite constructive and educative debates consistent with the highest tradition of the august body.”

“This is the popular sentiment gaining ground amongst the common man,” the court added.

This, the order noted, “is disheartening for the observers” who “earnestly feel it is high time that corrective steps are taken by all concerned and the elected representatives would do enough to restore the glory and the standard of intellectual debates of the highest order, as have been chronicled of their predecessors. That legacy should become more prominent than the rumpus caused very often”.

The bench said that “aggression during debates has no place in the setting of (a) country governed by the Rule of Law”. It sought to impress upon legislators that “even a complex issue needs to be resolved in a congenial atmosphere by observing collegiality and showing full respect and deference towards each other”.

It also said that “in any case, there can be no place for disorderly conduct in the House, much less ‘grossly disorderly’,”. Such conduct, it noted, “must be dealt with sternly for ensuring orderly functioning of the House. But that action must be constitutional, legal, rational and as per the procedure established by law”.

The members, the court said, “ought to ensure optimum utilisation of quality time of the House, which is very precious, and is the need of the hour especially when we, the people of India that is Bharat, take credit of being the oldest civilisation on the planet and also being the world’s largest democracy (demographically). For becoming world leaders and self-dependant/reliant, quality of debates in the House ought to be of the highest order and directed towards intrinsic constitutional and native issues confronting the common man of the nation/States…”

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