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SC draws on words of statute architect

New Delhi, Aug. 27: The constitution bench of the Supreme Court that issued the advisory on ministers referred to the words of B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly on December 30, 1948.

Ambedkar, the principal architect of the Indian Constitution, had said that the burden of appointing a suitable person as a minister in the central government lay entirely on the shoulders of the Prime Minister and it may eminently be left to his or her good sense.

Today, the five-judge bench said offences and the sentence to be awarded for the purpose of disqualifying a person from being elected to a legislature are matters that Parliament may like to debate and consider, if at all it is felt necessary.

“Until then, we must trust the watchful eye of the people of the country that the elected representative of the people is worthy of being a legislator.

Thereafter, we must trust the wisdom of the Prime Minister and Parliament that the elected representative is worthy of being a minister in the central government,” the court said.

The court then referred to Ambedkar. It has to be “left to the good sense of the Prime Minister, and for that matter, the chief minister of a state, since it was expected that the two great constitutional functionaries would not dare to do any infamous thing by inducting an otherwise unfit person to the council of ministers. It appears, over a period of time, at least in some cases, it was only a story of great expectations.

“Hence, it has become the bounden duty of the court to remind the Prime Minister and the chief minister(s) of their duty to act in accordance with the constitutional aspirations.”

The apex court added: “No doubt, what is good or bad is not for the court to decide but the court can always indicate the constitutional ethos on goodness, good governance and purity in administration and remind the constitutional functionaries to preserve, protect and promote the same. Those ethos are the unwritten words in our Constitution. However, as the Constitution makers stated, there is a presumption that the Prime Minister/chief minister would be well advised and guided by such unwritten yet constitutional principles as well.”

The court said that in a democracy, the citizens legitimately expect that the government of the day would treat the public interest as the primary one and any other interest as secondary.