SC to hear plea of lawyers body for action against VP, Rijiju over remarks on judiciary

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday a plea of Bombay Lawyers Association (BLA) against Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju and Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar over their remarks on judiciary and the collegium system for appointment of judges.

The lawyers’ body has moved the top court challenging the Bombay High Court’s February 9 order dismissing its plea on the ground that it was not a fit case to invoke the writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.

As per the apex court web-site, the appeal of the BLA is listed for hearing before a bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Ahsanuddin Amanullah.

The Bombay Lawyers Association (BLA) had claimed that Rijiju and Dhankhar showed lack of faith in the Constitution with their remarks and conduct. It had sought orders to restrain Dhankhar from discharging duty as the vice president, and Rijiju as the cabinet minister for the central government.

In an appeal, the lawyers body said the “frontal attack not just on the judiciary but the Constitution’ by the two executive officials has lowered the prestige of the Supreme Court in public.

Rijiju had said the collegium system of appointing judges was “opaque and not transparent”.

Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar had questioned the landmark 1973 Kesavananda Bharati judgement that gave the basic structure doctrine.

Dhankhar had said the verdict set a bad precedent and, if any authority questions Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution, it would be difficult to say “we are a democratic nation”.

“It is submitted that the Petitioner herein filed the PIL before the High Court of Judicature at Bombay praying therein to declare the Respondent no 1 and 2 as disqualified candidates to hold any constitutional posts of Vice President and Minister of the Union Cabinet, respectively, based on their behaviour, conduct and utterances made in public,” the petition has said.

The two constitutional functionaries, it said, showed lack of faith in the Constitution by their conduct and utterances made in public and by attacking its institutions, including the Supreme Court, and showing scant regard for the law laid down by the Supreme Court. “The conduct of Respondent Nos 1 and 2 appeared to have shaken public faith in the Supreme Court and the Constitution,” it said.

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The plea said the vice president and the Union minister have affirmed oaths that they will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution. “However, their conduct has shown lack of faith in the Constitution of India,” it said assailing the high court’s order dismissing its PIL.

They have launched a frontal attack on the institution of judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court, in most derogatory language without any recourse which is available under the constitutional scheme to change the status quo as per the law laid down by the Supreme Court, it said.

The BLA quoted the statements of the dignitaries made at certain functions.

The high court had on February 9 dismissed the public interest litigation (PIL).

“We are not inclined to grant any relief. The petition is dismissed. Reasons would be recorded later,” the high court had said.

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