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Judiciary must draw its own ‘Lakshmanrekha’: FM Arun Jaitley

May,16,2016:

The executive decisions in governance are to be taken by the Executive and not the Judiciary, says FM.

FM Arun Jaitley
FM Arun Jaitley

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday yet again flagged concerns over judicial overreach. He made it clear that the Judiciary of the Country must draw its own “Lakshmanrekha” and shall not take decisions on issues which fall in the domain of the Executive.

He also stressed that judicial activism has to blend with restraint and no compromise can be there with other aspects of the basic structure in the name of independence of the Judiciary.

“Judicial review is a legitimate domain of Judiciary but then the Lakshmanrekhahas will have to be drawn by all the institutions themselves. This Lakshmanrekha is very vital,” the Finance Minister said, asserting that “the executive decisions in governance are to be taken by the Executive and not the Judiciary.”

Mr. Jaitley reasoned that there are different types of recourse and “layers of accountability” available when the Executive takes decisions.

He said citizens have the options of seeking changes in the decision taken by the Executive besides voting out the government.

The Courts on their part can also strike down the decisions taken by the Executive only when they are found to be unconstitutional but all these options are not available when the court ends up taking executive decisions, Mr. Jaitley argued.

“Courts cannot be the substitute to the Executive and say we will exercise the executive power. If you do so the three options will not be available, which are there when the Executive takes executive decisions,” the Finance Minister said.

While referring to protests by many States over the Supreme Court decision on National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) he asserted that what should be the manner of holding the medical examination across the country is essentially an executive matter as it is in policy decision.

He added that both the Judiciary and the Executive are actually “on the same page” over maintaining the fairness and integrity of exams at all costs.

At the same time, the FM noted that the independence of the Judiciary as such is extremely important and it is rightly asserted by the Judiciary.

“Just as independence of the Judiciary is part of basic structure of Constitution, the primacy of the Legislature in policy making is also part of basic structure. In the name of the independence of the Judiciary, we cannot compromise the other two basic structures,” he said.

“Element of Judicial activism always has to be blended with element of restraint,” he said, adding that the correct course is when the two are balanced.

Mr. Jaitley had earlier urged the legislators to refrain from handing over budgetary and taxation powers to the Judiciary.

Mr. Jaitley had made the remark while replying to Opposition Congress’ demand in Rajys Sabha for a dispute redressal mechanism under which a judge would resolve any dispute between the Centre and States on Goods and Services Tax.

Again speaking in Hyderabad, Mr. Jaitley had on Sunday has said that while he respects the apex court, “but one should not try to interfere in others’ areas.”

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