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Oppn feels it has right to policy-making: Sibal

Anxious to address the Supreme Court’s concerns about the CBI’s autonomy,the UPA government may have felt compelled to propose

Written by D K Singh | New Delhi | Published: June 28, 2013 2:51:42 am

Anxious to address the Supreme Court’s concerns about the CBI’s autonomy,the UPA government may have felt compelled to propose,among others,a collegium to appoint the CBI Director but there is growing unease and apprehension in the ruling dispensation about attempts to erode the executive’s authority in policy-making.

Asked how the inclusion of Leader of the Opposition in the said collegium would ensure CBI’s independence,Law Minister Kapil Sibal told The Indian Express,“The nature of Indian democracy is unique. The opposition feels it has the right to participate in policy-making. Transparency in India means the opposition must be involved in every decision-making process. This is not seen in any other democracy.”

“Democracy means that a party which has the majority in Parliament is responsible to people; the opposition is not answerable to people. The opposition feels it the right to participate in government policy-making. Unfortunately,other institutions also seem to interpret democracy in this fashion,” he said.

The Law Minister dismissed any suggestion of judicial interference in policy making saying,“I wouldn’t call it interference. Ours is a young democracy. Institutions in this country are still evolving. We are all on a learning curve. In years to come,institutions and those who are their integral part will reflect on the role that they have to play within the contours of their jurisdiction. This must evolve; this cannot be imposed.”

Sibal sought to defend the UPA government,which has been getting frequent raps from courts for alleged omissions and commissions. “The executive performs its functions in a highly complex polity. In this context,no executive can claim to provide perfect answers for everything. If answer is imperfect,it does not mean that motives of the government are corrupt. Judges are also human beings. They,too,have perceptions they are entitled to. We are charged with running the government; they interpret the law.”

“The judiciary is entitled to criticise the government. There is no problem with that. Whether it is justified or not is another matter but it doesn’t mean that they are charged with the responsibility of supplanting the laws. They are also entitled to persuade the government to take into consideration factors and criteria in the formulation of policy.”

Asked about his views on obiter dicta,the verbal remarks by judges that have often had the government scurrying for cover,the Law Minister said,“It is very difficult not to expect the court to respond to situations. Each judge decides for himself or herself the extent he or she must exercise. We exercise enormous restraint when we discuss matters relating to judges because institutions are far more important than individuals. It is for the judges to decide the extent of restraint that they need to exercise. You cannot restrain a judge from speaking his or her mind out.”

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