Govt vs judiciary: Prez wants "sobriety and discretion"

Govt vs judiciary: Prez wants "sobriety and discretion"

President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday called for "sobriety and discretion" in communication between the three branches of the state  - the judiciary, legislature and executive.

Kovind's remarks came as, for the second day in a row, the government launched a  attack  on judicial activism by the constitutional courts, saying judges must restrain themselves from donning the role of super-executive or super-legislature.

Kovind said all branches of the states should be careful not to disturb the fraternity of the separation of powers by even unknowingly intruding into the domain of the two other branches.

"It is critical to keep this intricate and delicate balance in mind when exploring the relationship between the three branches. They are all equal. They should all be conscious of their liberty and strive to protect their autonomy," he said.

The President was inaugurating the Constitution Day celebrations.

Kovind reminded everyone that "at the heart of the constitutional project was trust  - trust in each other, trust between institutions, trust in the goodness of fellow citizens, and trust in the wisdom of future generations. This sense of trust is inherent in constitutional governance."

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said probity and propriety in the judiciary is as important as judicial independence.

The fine balance  between the judiciary, executive and legislature should be maintained to avoid any strain, he said.

A day ago, at the opening ceremony of National Law Day celebrations, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra differed in their views on judicial activism.

The CJI upheld the role of judges to proactively intervene to protect the fundamental rights of individuals against state policy.

On the other hand, Jaitley said judges can indeed direct the government but cannot take it upon themselves to perform the functions of the executive.

Jaitley said it was flawed to argue that judicial activism is meant to fill the gaps left by other state organs.

He hypothetically asked  how it would be if the other organs start performing the functions of the judiciary citing arrears as an excuse.

A day ago, Union Minister of State for Law and Justice P P Chaudhary too said judicial activism was an outcome of the judiciary's independence and should be lauded as long as it stayed away from the realm of policy.

"But quite apart from this is another species of judicial activism where the judiciary is also stepping into areas that are, strictly speaking, in the realm of policy."

The CJI said the judiciary has no desire to make policy. "Nobody intends, nobody desires to enter upon the policy-making areas. We don't make policies but we interpret policies and that's our job," he said.

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