New Delhi: Chief Justice of India (CJI) N.V. Ramana Sunday regretted the lack of quality parliamentary debates while enacting statutes, saying its absence has led to spurt in litigation in courts.
Calling the current situation in the context of Parliamentary debates a “sorry state of affairs”, the CJI said laws are being notified without any “proper debate”, among lawmakers, leaving many gaps and ambiguity in legislations.
Speaking at the flag hoisting ceremony organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association of India (SCBA) to celebrate India’s 75th Independence Day, CJI Ramana recalled the past, when Parliament as well as state assemblies were full of lawyers.
In order to have quality laws, he added, lawyers should involve themselves in public life so that Parliament can witness the same quality of debates as it did immediately after independence.
Bills passed in record time
The CJI’s remarks are significant considering the monsoon session of the Parliament turned out to be the least productive in the Modi government’s second term.
Since the monsoon session began on 19 July, House proceedings were regularly disrupted over a host of issues, including the Pegasus spyware controversy.
However, a record of sorts was also made in the time taken to pass a majority of bills.
Except for the Constitution (127th amendment) bill that witnessed a debate of over six hours in both Houses, on an average the upper and lower house took little time to pass the majority of the bills, which included the General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021 approved in eight minutes and the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, that was approved in just six minutes.
CJI Ramana said it was “unfortunate” to see the way proceedings take place in the Parliament now. In comparison, he added, the debates that took place in earlier times were very wise and constructive.
Recollecting one such debate from the past that took place over an amendment to the Industrial Disputes Act, he said, after reading the discussions one understood the consequences of changes suggested.
“The burden of the courts in interpreting the law was less as we had a clear picture of what the legislature thought and why they made such a legislation,” he said.
But now there is no clarity in laws, he added. “We don’t know what is the purpose for the law and this is creating a lot of litigation, inconvenience and loss to the government, as well as inconvenience to the public,” the CJI said.
This was because there are no intellectuals and professionals like lawyers in the two Houses, the CJI said.
“It is time that the legal community should now lead and participate actively in social and public life. Don’t confine yourself to your profession, earning money and living comfortably,” he added, imploring members of the legal community to contribute their knowledge, wisdom and experience to lawmaking.
The CJI also lauded the role played by the Supreme Court in expanding the scope of the Indian Constitution, providing rights to the people taking into consideration the problem of citizens. He said the apex court had played a very active role in this regard, but it was also time to “rethink and review the policies brought so far, what we have achieved or what we have to achieve in future”.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)