Three pillars of state backbone of Constitution, should cooperate: Modi

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FILE PHOTO: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering during his visit to Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad, India, June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo

NEW DELHI – Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that balance between the executive, legislature and judiciary is the “backbone of the Constitution” and called upon the three pillars of the state to strengthen and cooperate with each other for a strong, secure and self-reliant India which can ensure that the 21st century belongs to it.

Delivering the valedictory address on the conclusion of the two day meet on the National Law Day jointly organised by the Law Commission of India and the NITI Aayog, he said tje Constitution has delicately delineated the boundaries between the three and expected that they will use their powers without transgressing into others domain.

His call for cooperation between the three wings is seen as a conciliatory note after Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad criticised the top court for being pro-active and intruding in the domain of the executive and the legislature.

Seeking an audit of the judicial appointments made by the Supreme Court collegium since 1993, Prasad also assailed the top court judgment striking down the National Judicial Appointment Commission, brought in by the Modi government to replace the collegium system, wondering how can the presence of the Law Minister in the NJAC could have dented the independence of the judiciary in the appointment of judges.

Provision for the presence of Law Minister as one of the members of the NJAC was cited as a reasons for junking it by the top court in 2015.

Prasad also cited several cases including that of the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) to criticise the top court.

Refusing to join issue with the Law Minister on the issue of BCCI as a petition seeking the recall of verdict was pending hearing, Chief Justice Dipak Misra said: “We recognise, respect and accept the separation of powers.”

He said that government and courts are bonded by the principle of the constitutional sovereignty which expects that the institutions must function with a sense of mutual respect without any claim for supremacy.

“Constitution expected that the institutions must function with a sense of mutual respect and there should not be any claim for supremacy by any of the wings,” Misra in his valedictory address.

He cited several PILs including one on NOTA where the top court refused to entertain as they were concerned with the legislative domain or policy matters. He also said that on numerous occasions, the top court has accepted the view of the Law Minister and did not ignore his objections.

CJI also said in his remarks at the meet that Supreme Court believes in Constitutional sovereignty and the only religion which “all of us should follow is Constitutional religion”.

The CJI said that no fundamental right was absolute but fetters to it have to be scrutinised.

Modi, in his speech, said the world was looking at India with hope. “So many countries want to walk with us shoulder to shoulder in the road to development. As such legislature, executive and judiciary, all have to move ahead in the limits decided by the Constitution,” he said.

His remarks came a day after the CJI and Minister of State for Law and Justice P.P. Chaudhary crossed swords over judicial activism.

President Ram Nath Kovind, who spoke at the morning session, said that the Constitution was not an “abstract idea” and it has to be made meaningful for ordinary people by connecting it with their daily life and needs.

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