The Congress led governments have always tried to weaken the Judicial system. It’s no secret that most of our Constitutional bodies were reduced to theater of absurdities whenever Congress governments came at the helm of power. The various Congress headed governments indulged in systematic weakening of the Supreme court on stupid pretexts such as upholding the rights of minorities. Look at our present PM, who misses no opportunity to glorify his “helplessness” by organizing hi-profile conferences at regular intervals. He seems to cherish the illusion that serious issues can be solved by being tight-lipped. Mr. PM, silence is not always golden! More often than not silence is indicative of our own involvement in crime. Do not harbour the illusion that your regular flirtation with polished behaviour, which defines a gentleman, shall absolve you of the wrongdoings. It’s not at all outrageous to suggest that in previous years, the Congress governments have encouraged and abetted policies detrimental to Constitutional fabric.
If we have a look at bygone months, it would be very clear that Congress-led UPA government at Centre sidelined Constitutional provisions to keep its petty interests alive. Hasan Ali involved in money laundering case was allowed to roam free as if he had done nothing. The Central government remained lenient towards him, making Supreme court pass strict remarks. “What the hell is going on in this country? There are instances when minor offenders are shot down for violating Section 144 CrPC, but you don’t take any action against these people. We are very sorry. All these people are now free. What is in the way of taking action against Hasan Ali? How many years will investigations continue against Ali?” .
In another sensational case of corruption, the stand of Congress government had been laughable. I am talking about 2G spectrum case. The government machinery became hyperactive to shield the high profile people involved in the case, to an extent of misleading the Supreme Court. It also raised doubts over the legitimacy of the findings of CAG report, which in explicit terms talked about the mind boggling spectrum loot of 2008. The report was unambiguous in revealing the modus operandi, mentioning that “the entire process of allocation of UAS licenses lacked transparency and was undertaken in an arbitrary, unfair and inequitable manner, which gave unfair advantage to certain companies over others.”
In fact, one minister minced no words when he stated that “PAC draft report will be thrown in the dustbin, to which the chairman regretted and questioned if Parliament’s proposals and then Supreme court orders would be given the same treatment”. Well, I must say that undermining the importance of Constitutional bodies had always topped the priority list of Congress governments. It’s because SC has always shown courage in dealing with double faced minsters of Congress including the Prime Minister. “Can the sanctioning authority (Prime Minister in this case) sit on the complaint?” a Bench of Justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly asked while wishing to know the cause of delay in prosecuting Raja.
The Congress governments have also reduced to ashes the dignity associated with the State Governor. The latest in the list is controversial role played by H R Bhardwaj, confirming the doubts that Governors are no more than “old courtiers” of Congress. It also confirms that Raj Bhawan in the regime of Congress have always been “hot-bed of political conspiracies”. Just few years back, the role of Governors in Jharkhand and Goa had given a huge jolt to the reputation enjoyed by this Constitutional office. P.P Rao, a senior advocate, Supreme court of India, in editorial column of The Tribune rightly stated that ‘ the behaviour of some of the Governors raises a doubt whether they act at the behest of or to please the Central Government. In Hargovind Pant vs Dr Raghukul Tilak, the Supreme Court clarified that the Governor is not an employee or servant of the Central Government even though he is appointed by the President and holds office during his pleasure. The court sounded a note of caution “that Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion, that purity of public offices of high status is a constitutional value in itself, that nothing should be done which may create an impression that a holder of a public office can look forward to a higher appointment after retirement if he pleases the government of the day and that no appointment should be made which may lend support to the criticism of favouritism or patronage and consequential weakening of credibility.” Governors should not only act in a non-partisan manner, but also appear to act without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.’
Coming to other aspect, the Congress governments have always brutally murdered the feelings of Hindus whenever it got an opportunity to do so by misusing the concept of secularism. For instance, in Ram Setu case, it fooled the Supreme court by filing dubious affidavits one after another, in which it changed its stand many times. It declared that Rama Setu is not an “essential” and “integral” part of Hindu religion even as the said fact was admitted and accepted by the respondents (Centre and its concerned department) before the Madras High Court. One can easily see that Congress have always had guts to take contradictory stands before the Constitutional bodies. Now let’s delve deep into the past to know that Congress really never wished to make the Constitutional bodies attain perfect reputation. It always played with the impartiality associated with these institutions.
The Congress Party assaulted the Constitutional body in form of imposition of emergency in 1975 to prevent the execution of Allahabad High court’s order, which not only declared Indira Gandhi’s election null and void but also stopped her from contesting any election for an additional six years. The striking feature of the emergency was the suspension of Fundamental rights of an individual, which was against the principles laid down in Kesavananda Bharati judgment of the Supreme Court of 1973. The Judgment has clearly stated that “fundamental rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution of India cannot be abrogated but there can be only a reasonable abridgment of those rights to keep intact public interest”. However, the Congress government believed that no fundamental rights existed during emergency!
In fact, to lessen the impact of Kesavananda Bharati judgment the 42nd amendment was brought in existence, which limited the power of Apex Court and High Courts to examine the constitutional validity of law. The landmark Kesavananda Bharati judgment had given Court the power to review and quash any amendment to the Constitution of India, which altered the constitution’s ‘basic structure’. In fact, Indira government virtually punishing the judges involved in Kesavananda Bharati judgment, appointed A.N. Roy as Chief Justice of India bypassing senior judges Shelat, Grover and Hegde. This move was termed as ” the blackest day in the history of democracy” by Advocate C. K. Daphtary. However, 43rd and 44th Amendments made by the Janta Party Government restored pre-1976 position in a minor way.
The Shah Bano case is another prominent example to show how Congress is not ashamed at all to diminish the aura of Constitutional institutions. The Parliament came to pass The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986 that nullified the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Shah Bano case, which stated that Shah Bano cannot be denied maintenance money in accordance with the provisions laid down in Section 125 of Code of Criminal Procedure. Anyway, let me also bring in perspective conflicts, which often take place between Parliament and Supreme Court during rule of Congress. In Golaknath v State of Punjab and Keshavananda Bharati v the State of Kerala case ,the Supreme Court made it clear that “court reserved for itself the discretion to reject any constitutional amendments passed by Parliament by declaring that the amendments cannot change the constitution’s ‘ basic structure’“. The Congress governments have always tried to make Parliament gain an upper hand but the reality is that as per constitutional experts Courts remain the “final arbiters of the validity and applicability of law”.
In 2007, the Supreme court in I.R. Coelho (Dead) By Lrs v State of Tamil Nadu and Others made it crystal clear via unanimous judgment that “all Laws passed, even if they are kept in IX Schedule of the Constitution has to pass through the Basic Structure Doctrine”. The Supreme Court being in tune with all the provisions of the Constitution besides taking into account Basic Structure doctrine as propounded in Keshavananda Bharati case holds the right to scrutinize the Ninth Schedule Laws. This judgment is hailed as “master stroke of the judiciary”. The Supreme court was virtually compelled to introduce the concept of Basic Structure Doctrine because of the misdeeds of Congress regimes, which used Ninth schedule as a mean to ensure solid vote bank. It had become a perfect medium to defend the appeasement based laws. Against this backdrop, it had became need of the hour to make Ninth schedule above vote bank politics.
The governments acted smart by inserting the dubious laws in Ninth schedule and thus making judicial review a tricky affair. It would be interesting to know that Ninth Schedule has thirteen items related with land reform laws, which cannot be challenged on basis of contravention of Article 13 of the Constitution. Article 13 broadly ensures protection of Fundamental Rights as depicted in Part III of Indian constitution. In nutshell, the 2007 judgment highlights the Chief Justice Patanjali Sastri’s view expressed in State of Madras v. V.G. Row [1952 SCR 597]: “This is especially true as regards the “fundamental rights” as to which the Supreme Court has been assigned the role of a sentinel on the qui vive. While the Court naturally attaches great weight to the legislative judgment, it cannot desert its own duty to determine finally the constitutionality of an impugned statute.” In other words, the power inherent in Article 32 is supreme as the said article is the life-force of the Constitution, making it evident that “judicial review is a constituent power that cannot be abrogated by judicial process of interpretation“.
One needs to appreciate Supreme court that it always thwarted the attempts of shrewd Congress rulers, interested in lowering the dignity associated with Constitutional bodies. And no wonder, the Congress governments are always at loggerheads with Constitutional bodies on one pretext or another. It’s better that we provide no room to such governments, which love to weaken the Constitutional institutions. That would shape the destiny of this wonderful nation in a desired way.