NJAC SC verdict: Democracy cannot be 'tyranny of the unelected', says Jaitley

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New Delhi, Oct 18: In unusually strong remarks over the Supreme Court's reasoning for striking down the NJAC Act, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said Indian democracy cannot be a "tyranny of the unelected" and to strengthen independence of judiciary, one does not have to weaken Parliamentary sovereignty.

Terming as "erroneous logic" reasons given by a five-judge Constitution bench which declared as unconstitutional the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014 and also the 99th Constitution Amendment, Jaitley warned that democracy would be in danger if the "elected are undermined".

Arun Jaitley flays SC verdict on NJAC

"The Indian democracy cannot be a tyranny of the unelected and if the elected are undermined, democracy itself would be in danger," he said in a Facebook post titled 'The NJAC Judgement – An Alternative View?', which he termed as "personal views".

Jaitley, also a former Law Minister, said as someone concerned about the independence of judiciary and the sovereignty of Parliament, he believed that the two can and must co-exist.

"Independence of the judiciary is an important basic structure of the Constitution. To strengthen it, one does not have to weaken Parliamentary sovereignty which is not only an essential basic structure but is the soul of our democracy," he said.

The NDA government had suffered a huge blow with the Supreme Court saying the legislations, which gives a major role to the executive in appointing judges, would breach the "independence" of the higher judiciary.

[NJAC: Is it the start of a Judiciary vs Legislature war?]

The NJAC Act, which replaced the 22-year-old collegium system of judges appointing judges, was held as "void" by the apex court which said it impinges upon the concepts of "separation of powers" and the "basic structure" of the Constitution.

In its reaction, the Modi government had said that the verdict, which drew mixed responses from the legal fraternity and political parties, was a "setback to parliamentary sovereignty."

Politician bashing is the key to the judgement, Jaitley said, adding one of the judge argues that BJP leader LK Advani had opined that dangers of an Emergency-like situation are still there.

Civil society in India is not strong and, therefore, you need an independent judiciary.

Another argues that it may be possible that the present Government does not favour appointment of persons with alternative sexuality as Judges of the High Court and the Supreme Court.

"Politician bashing is akin to the 9.00 PM television programmes," he said.

PTI

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