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Judicial activism undemocratic, says Somnath

Judicial activism was “undemocratically and unconstitutionally” taking away the rights of the executive and the legislature...

Judicial activism was “undemocratically and unconstitutionally” taking away the rights of the executive and the legislature, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said here on Wednesday.

There was clear mention in the Constitution that the judiciary had no jurisdiction in the procedures and proceedings of the legislatures and the Lok Sabha, he said. He said it was a matter of concern that the judiciary was intervening in executive decisions.

“This judicial activism is unfortunate and uncalled for,” Chatterjee told a ‘face-to-face’ programme at the Kolkata Press Club. He was particularly critical of the judiciary while referring to the Calcutta High Court’s order disallowing the holding of Kolkata Book Fair at the Park Circus Maidan on the ground of environment pollution and violation of fundamental rights. “This decision of the High Court is unfortunate,” he said.

Asked if judicial activism would strike at the root of democracy, the Speaker replied, “certainly”. He said it was he who had protested judicial activism in a no-trust motion in the Jharkhand Assembly a few years ago “wherein the Assembly Speaker was directed to conduct the House as per court order and reported to it accordingly”. “I then protested and my protest was acknowledged later,” Chatterjee said.

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The Speaker was critical of the contention that judiciary would have to step in “when the Government does not work and the legislatures and Parliament are not active saying “this view, I feel, is unwarranted and the judiciary has no power to exceed its limit”. Chatterjee said while the legislature and Parliament were accountable to the people, the judiciary was seeking to “take away rights of the legislatures and the executive too”.

“This unelected body has no responsibility so far as it intervenes in the powers of executive and the legislatures.”

“The court has the jurisdiction to examine the legality or constitutionality of any matter. But there has been intervention in matters of executive and the legislatures,” he said.

First published on: 31-01-2008 at 12:05:36 am
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