Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar on Wednesday questioned the 1973 Kesavananda Bharati case verdict, which established the basic structure doctrine, stating that it sets a bad precedent and undermines parliamentary sovereignty. He also criticized the scrapping of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act in 2015 by the Supreme Court.
“In 1973, a wrong precedent was set. In the Kesavananda Bharati case, the Supreme Court gave the idea of basic structure saying Parliament can amend the Constitution but not its basic structure. With due respect to the judiciary, I cannot subscribe to this,” Dhankhar, a former Supreme Court lawyer, said.
“Can Parliament be allowed that its verdict will be subject to any authority… The executive has to follow laws and the judiciary cannot intervene in law-making. If any institution on any basis strikes down the law passed by Parliament then it will not be good for democracy and would be difficult to say we are a democratic nation,” the Rajya Sabha Chairman said.
Dhankhar said that parliamentary sovereignty and autonomy are essential for the survival of democracy and cannot be compromised by the executive or judiciary. He argued that the judiciary should not be able to intervene in lawmaking and that any institution striking down laws passed by parliament would be detrimental to democracy.
He specifically spoke about the NJAC Act and said it was an unprecedented scenario in democratic history, where the executive must adhere to laws passed by parliament and the judiciary should not be able to overturn them.
His statement comes in the midst of a debate on the appointment of higher judiciary and the government’s criticism of the current Collegium system, which the Supreme Court is defending. Dhankhar emphasized that no institution should wield power to neutralize the mandate of the people.