“The Decline” of Hon’ble CJI Dattu

Not everybody has the opportunity to argue a Fresh PIL, on an issue concerning The Constitution, before the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India. I had the opportunity today; and I must thank the Petitioner, Jan Shruti (People’s Voice) for the gumption it had to prefer Writ Petition (Civil) No. 626 of 2015. The movement against Parliamentary Disruptions may have ended for this day with Hon’ble CJI Dattu’s words, “I decline”. But that shall not deter anybody.

A Parliamentary Privilege is that which is absolutely necessary for the due execution of the Parliament’s Powers. Is the Disruption of Parliament a Privilege?

The Parliament usually makes Laws and Rules for itself and is for the most part beyond Judicial Review. The method by which the Parliament exercises its “powers, privileges and immunities” is amenable to a question, however, before the SC. There are “judicially manageable standards of review” [Ram Pal, (2007) 3 SCC 184] and “operative principles that can be relied upon to the test the validity of exercise of the legislative privileges” [Amarinder, (2010) 6 SCC 113]. The method by which the Parliament is exercising its Apparent Privilege of Disrupting the Parliament is somewhat codified under the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha Rules. The Lok Sabha Rules, as compared to the Rajya Sabha Rules, imagines 13 more varieties of a Disruption. The Rules use the words ‘gross’, ‘wilful’, ‘grave’ to characterize the Disruptions. Although the Speaker’s discretion to choose the characterization cannot be questioned before the SC, it is certainly appropriate to ponder by what parameters is the Speaker’s discretion channeled. The Rajya Sabha Rules, in fact, do not even contemplate a ‘grave disorder’ of the nature the Lok Sabha Rules does. Are not the rules of human decorum/parliamentary etiquette same for one and all?

Hon’ble CJI Dattu and Hon’ble Justice Amitava Roy heard me out at length. They turned every page of the Judgments I showed. They looked at every Rule I pointed out. At the end of it all, my reward was nonetheless a Non-Speaking Order – “I decline”. The word ‘decline’ is of a more refined import than the word ‘dismissed’. You decline an invitation. You dismiss an orderly, though incorrectly. I must say I was ready today. I jumped without a rope. The Bar and Bench may even vouch for the same. But the Judiciary is not prepared to crack down on the unruly Parliamentarians, just as yet. We shall return to this Basic Structure, some other day.

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