New Delhi, Dec 6 (IANS) The fine balance of power between the judiciary and the executive has been disturbed thanks to the rise of judicial power, making the executive the weakest among the three pillars of a democracy, former Union Minister P. Chidambaram said on Tuesday.
At a session here on “Parliament and Judiciary” at PRS Annual Conference on Effective Legislatures, he also cited the “deadlock” in judicial appointments for the past two years as the government and higher judiciary have not reached a consensus and noted that there are various models for judicial appointments across the world and India can evolve its own model.
Rejecting the idea of only judges having a say in appointment of judges, Chidambaram advocated the role of civil society in the appointment of judges.
“Why should only judges be allowed to appint judges? Can MPs be allowed to appoint fellow MPs? That is not possible in a democracy.
“There is a civil society too. The civil society may also be included in the process of appointment of judges,” he said.
Earlier, speaking of judicial activism, he contended that courts have interpreted the Constitution “creatively” and given the judiciary enormous power.
“Rise of activist judges, and judicial activism is another reason for rise of judicial power. Also, by using appellate juris, courts have expanded powers, such as with arbitral awards,” he said.
“Today, the weakest of the three institutions — legislative, executive and judiciary — is the executive,” he said.
Citing the recent Supreme Court ruling which necessitates the playing of national anthem in cinemas before the screening of movie, Chidmabaram asked who would enforce the court’s order across lakhs of cinema halls in the country.
“I think judges should not tread into areas where the enforcement is difficult or where there is no judicial standard to measure a ruling against,” he said.
Among the reasons he cited for decline of legislative power were that Parliament and state legislative bodies spend less time on deliberating on issues and bills in the House. “The quality of debate is also poor and much less time is devoted to Question Hour than should be,” he said.
“And the third reason for decline of legislative power is weaker political authority,” he added.
Chidmabaram said a strong Parliament would have re-enacted the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, which sought to give politicians and civil society a stronger say in the appointment of judges to the highest courts, within days of it being struck down by the Supreme Court.
The event was organised by PRS, a non-government body that tracks functioning of the Indian Parliament and provides analysis of key legislative and policy issues.