Is the Indian judiciary trying to overdo in an enthusiasm to protect the integrity of the Constitution?
After seeking disqualification of convicted legislators from holding public office on Wednesday, the apex court backed it by barring jailed politicians from contesting elections, even if they are not convicted.
This is a worrying move. Is the apex court putting some basic democratic ideals at peril by trying to protect the Constitution? It sounds ironical but that it is what turning out to be. We have seen how an assertive judiciary undermined democracy in our neighbour Pakistan and even went on to disqualify an elected prime minister. Do we really need a confrontation between two major pillars of a democratic system, namely, the legislature and judiciary for the sake of populist reform?
It is not desirable that we resort to a collision course to fix our democratic functioning. Legal and administrative reforms can prove to be more than useful instead of banning and disqualifying right from the word go. If we settle for a law that bars jailed people from contesting elections, even if they are not convicted, then we are in for some real trouble.
Political fight will reach such proportions as a result (imagine what will happen in Andhra Pradesh next year if Jaganmohan Reddy isn't allowed to vote) that the entire governance could face threatened. Who will take responsibility of the consequences if parties confront each other openly claiming that leaders of one or the other have been deliberately targeted.
The judiciary can not think of running the administration, which one feels, is gradually being realized owing to the politicians' incompetence but there can be a better way to fix the system. Democracy can not run on an exclusive principle. If it does, then it ceases to be a democracy.