New Delhi, October 24 :Even as Fince Minister Arun Jaitley sought to brand the Supreme Court judgment striking down the tiol Judicial Appointments Commission Act and the ebling 99th constitution amendment as “tyranny of the unelected”, former apex court judge Asok Kumar Ganguly said that what it did was its “duty”, which it is mandated to discharge under the constitution. “Well I don’t agree with the minister. Under constitutiol provisions, it is always within the province of the judiciary to examine the validity of an act or even the validity of a constitutiol amendment. This power of judicial review has been expressly granted to the judiciary by the constitution. This is clear from article 79", Justice Ganguly told IANS on the phone from Kolkata, where he has settled down after his retirement. While Justice Ganguly disapproved of Jaitley’s choice of words, former Supreme Court judge Justice B. Sudershan Reddy refused to join the issue and Justice A.K. Patik tried to make light of it, saying it was normal for a parliamentarian faced with an adverse verdict to criticise the court.
Describing parliament a “feature of the constitution”, Justice Ganguly said: “There is no question of challenging the supremacy of the constitution and there is no tyranny of the unelected”. Justice Ganguly, who, along with Justice G.S. Singhvi, was part of the bench that had on February 2, 2012, cancelled 122 2G licences on the ground of being allocated in an “arbitrary” manner, said: “Parliament is a feature of the constitution, it does not interpret the constitution and it is given to the judiciary to interpret the Constitution. Therefore if the judiciary finds any law is unconstitutiol, it is its duty to say so.” “This constitutiol dispensation must be accepted by all, especially by a minister who assumes office by taking an oath to uphold and preserve the constitution. The judges of the Supreme Court, by their judgment, have just upheld the the constitution and law.”
A five-judge constitution bench of the the Supreme Court Oct 16 struck down the 99th amendment and the NJAC Act as unconstitutiol and void, restoring the collegium system for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary. The court also sought suggestions from the bar for the improved functioning of the collegium system. The hearing on the same will take place on November 3. Holding that “parliament is sovereign but is subject to the constitution”, Justice Ganguly said: “The sovereignty of parliament is not questioned by the judges but the laws made by it have to be tested on the touchstone of the constitution. Therefore, when a court declares a law invalid, it does not impinge on the sovereignty of parliament. It merely does its duty to uphold the constitution in exercise of its power of judicial review.” Not taking a serious view of the views expressed by Jaitley, Justice A.K. Patik, who had, in his July 10, 2013, verdict said that a lawmaker upon his conviction would be unseated, noted that Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act provided for this. (IANS)