Legislature vs. judiciary

I have been writing about the “law” over the last few days, and will write about legislation and the legislature next. This reminds me of the 2002 clash between the Manipur state legislature and the state high court which led to two high court judges fleeing the state because the state government pulled their security cover. More info here. Apparently, in the early ’90s there was a flare up between the Supreme Court of India and, again, the Manipur legislature. Writing about the anti-defection law, Rajeev Dhavan says

In 1993, a mighty confrontation surfaced between the Speaker of Manipur and the Supreme Court in relation to an anti-defection case when the latter ordered the Union Government to bring the Speaker to Court — with a minimum use of force, if necessary.

The history of India is rife with cases like these. From the ’60s

In March 1964, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly jailed Keshav Singh for contempt of the House. The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court gave him bail. Speaker Madan Mohan Varma then ordered both judges jailed. The full bench of the Allahabad High Court prohibited implementation of the speaker’s edict. The Supreme Court, to whom President Radhakrishnan referred the issue, observed, “In a modern State it is often necessary for the good of the country that parallel powers should exist in different authorities. It is not inevitable that such powers will clash.”

The problem is reflected in this parliament debate-

If we do not follow the basic principles of democracy in our country to the effect that our Judiciary is sovereign in every field as per the provisions made in article 141 to 144 of the Constitution, except in the case where speaker is sovereign and supreme in the House, all will have to follow the Supreme Court orders howsoever great one may be.

The courts are supreme, except when the legislature is supreme. The law is never supreme. A recipe for chaos.

And this case, from Tamil Nadu, is a bonus.

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