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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

House debates are key to clear laws, but now a sorry state of affairs: CJI Ramana

Speaking at the Independence Day event organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association, the CJI said that this was happening because intellectuals and lawyers are not there in the Houses and exhorted that the legal community should participate more actively in public life.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: August 16, 2021 3:50:25 am
Chief Justice of India N V Ramana. (File Photo)

FLAGGING THE lack of adequate discussion in legislative assemblies on various laws before they are passed, Chief Justice of India N V Ramana Sunday said there used to be “wise” and “constructive” debates in the past but a “sorry state of affairs” now has led to “gaps” and “ambiguity in making laws” — with “no clarity” on the purpose behind the legislation.

Speaking at an Independence Day event organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), CJI Ramana said this was happening because intellectuals and lawyers were not present in adequate numbers in the Houses, and exhorted the legal community to participate “more actively” in public life.

CJI Ramana’s remarks come days after the Monsoon Session of Parliament ended on a bitter note with the Opposition demanding discussions on the Pegasus spyware controversy and contentious farm laws, forcing repeated adjournments. Amidst the disruptions, the Government pushed through 20 Bills in Lok Sabha and 19 in Rajya Sabha, without any discussion on most of them.

In his speech, the CJI recalled that leaders of the Independence struggle were mostly lawyers who “not only sacrificed their profession, but sacrificed their properties…their everything, their families”. He said the first Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and other Houses were filled with lawyers and members of the legal community.

“Unfortunately, over a period of time, you know what is happening in the Houses, i.e., the legislation either in Parliament, Rajya Sabha or any other Houses. If you see, the debates, which used to take place in the Houses those days, were very, very wise, constructive, and they used to debate any legislation which they were making,” the CJI said.

Citing an example, he referred to “debates which had taken place about the Industrial Disputes Act, some amendments and all that”.

“A member of Tamil Nadu, Mr Ramamurti, a CPI(M) leader, used to discuss so elaborately what are the consequences if you make these amendments in the Industrial Disputes Act, how it affects the working class. Same way, different laws used to be discussed and deliberated. So the burden of the courts, while interpreting or implementing the law, is less. So we had a clear picture of what the legislative…wants to tell us, why they (are) making such a legislation,” CJI Ramana said.

“Now, (it is a) sorry state of affairs. We see the legislations, a lot of gaps, a lot of ambiguity in making the laws, there is no clarity in laws. We don’t know what purpose the laws are made for, which is creating a lot of litigation, inconvenience and loss to the Government as well as inconvenience to the public,” he said.

“This is what happens if intellectuals and lawyers are not there in the Houses…It is time…legal community, lawyers have to lead, participate actively in social life, public life. Don’t confine yourself to your profession, earning money and living comfortably…We must also actively participate in public life, do some good service,” the CJI said.

Sunday’s event was also attended by Supreme Court Justice A M Khanwilkar, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and SCBA president Vikas Singh.

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