New Delhi, Dec 26: The year 2016 witnessed plenty of hostility between the government and the judiciary. It began in October 2015, with the Supreme Court striking down the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act which was introduced to increase transparency in judicial appointments. This became the pre-cursor for a bitter battle between the government and the judiciary.
At the start of 2016, Chief Justice of India TS Thakur announced that this would be the year of appointments and promised to fill up the vacancies in the judiciary. However, in April, the country witnessed an unfortunate scene in which the CJI broke down at a public function in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He accused the government of stalling the appointments to the judiciary.
The fight begins:
Following this incident there was an all-out war between the two pillars of democracy. The government hit back at the judiciary and blamed it for stalling appointments in the high court. The Supreme Court too hit back and asked the government if it was planning on bringing the judiciary to a grinding halt.
The CJI questioned in his court why the 440 vacancies were not filled up. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad hit back and asked why the judiciary had not filled up the 4,900 vacancies in the lower judiciary.
This was not it. Following the Independence Day address by the prime minister, the CJI said he was upset that the judicial vacancies did not find a mention in his speech. Justice Thakur went on to say that this was an important issue and he was upset that the same did not find a mention during his speech.
The year 2016 also witnessed some major verdicts passed by the Supreme Court that caused a great deal of embarrassment to the Union government. When the Harish Rawat-led Uttarakhand government was dismissed and President's rule imposed, the Supreme Court stepped in.
The SC directed that a floor test be conducted. Following the test, the Rawat government was restored.
In another confrontation, the government questioned the role of the SC during emergency. The government asked why the SC had not done enough during the emergency period and also accused it of failing the nation. The SC however shot back and cautioned the government not to cross its line.
Another major verdict was in the Arunachal Pradesh case. The Governor JP Rajkhowa had triggered of a political unrest, following which President's rule was imposed in the state. However, the intervention of the SC led to the toppling of the BJP-staged rebel government in the state.