P Chidambaram
Chidambaram said all citizens must demand that the RBI Bond must be restored immediately. Photo: PTI File.

Dhankhar's remarks on judiciary: Chidambaram flays VP, warns of dangers ahead

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Thursday (January 12) said Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar is “wrong” in stating that Parliament is supreme and warned that his views should make every Constitution-loving citizen to be alert to the dangers ahead.

Dhankhar on Wednesday said that “one-upmanship and public posturing” from judicial platforms is not good and these institutions must know how to conduct themselves.

Dhankhar’s virtual censure of the judiciary followed the apex court’s remarks on the issue of the collegium system.

Also read: Parliament’s sovereignty cannot be compromised by judiciary: VP Dhankhar

What Dhankhar said

Addressing the 83rd All India Presiding Officers Conference in Jaipur, Dhankhar criticised the scrapping of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act in 2015.

He also questioned the landmark 1973 Kesavananda Bharati case verdict, saying it set a wrong precedent and that he disagrees with the Supreme Court ruling that Parliament can amend the Constitution but not its basic structure.

Chidambaram said on Twitter: “The Honourable Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is wrong when he says that Parliament is supreme. It is the Constitution that is supreme.”

The “basic structure” doctrine was evolved in order to prevent a majoritarian-driven assault on the foundational principles of the Constitution, the former Union Minister said.

Chidambaram’s argument

“Suppose Parliament, by a majority, voted to convert the parliamentary system into a presidential system. Or repeal the State List in Schedule VII and take away the exclusive legislative powers of the States. Would such amendments be valid?” Chidambaram asked in a string of tweets.

After the NJAC Act was struck down, nothing prevented the government from introducing a new Bill, the Congress leader said.

“The striking down of one Act does not mean that the basic structure doctrine is wrong,” he added.

“In fact, the Honourable Chairman’s views should warn every Constitution-loving citizen to be alert to the dangers ahead,” Chidambaram said.

Collegium row

Dhankhar, who has criticised in and outside the House the striking down of the NJAC Act, said Wednesday that it was “a scenario perhaps unparalleled in the democratic history of the world.”

“The executive is ordained to be in compliance with the constitutional prescription emanating from Parliament. It was obligated to adhere to the NJAC. Judicial verdict cannot run it down,” he said.

His statement came amid a raging debate on the appointment to the higher judiciary, with the government questioning the current Collegium system and the Supreme Court defending it.

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