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Since 1st March, 1999
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Speaker lash at court

Ranchi, May 19: In a significant but unusual outburst, Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari today asked the judiciary to learn its “limits”.

Apparently irked by the high court entertaining a petition of Jharkhand Party president N.E. Horo seeking disqualification from the Assembly of Enos Ekka, the rural development minister, Namdhari said the judiciary has no business to entertain a petition related to the Speaker’s jurisdiction. Judicial “over-activism’, he warned, would lead to the derailment of democracy.

The timing was unfortunate as the high court has already completed hearing the case and is expected to pronounce the judgment tomorrow. N.E. Horo, who had filed the petition after Ekka defected to the NDA, wondered why Namdhari had not cared to object while the hearing was going on. “Why is he objecting now that the judgment is about to be delivered,” he asked, refusing to comment on what is essentially sub-judice.

Taking strong exception to the high court’s decision to hear arguments in the Ekka case, Namdhari declared this was a “clear case of encroachment” into the legislature’s jurisdiction. “The court should not have entertained the petition in the first instance,” he said, “since membership of the Assembly falls within the Speaker’s jurisdiction.”

The high court, Namdhari felt, should have waited for the Speaker’s ruling in the matter. He would have had no objection, he clarified, if his ruling is subjected to judicial review for legal lacuna found in it.

“The judiciary can interpret the law but it cannot make the law,” he said. Had there been some discrepancy in the ruling or if the petitioner had not been satisfied with the ruling, the court would have acted within its rights and reviewed it, he felt. But to take it up even before the Speaker’s ruling is not proper, he added.

Namdhari, who is a prolific writer, went on to cite an example. “When food is served on the table, people choose what to eat and what to leave out. But the judiciary, it would seem, wants to take up all the cases that come before it. This is a dangerous trend.”

Reminded that the NDA had taken the issue of majority to the Supreme Court, Namdhari claimed he was never in favour of seeking the Supreme Court’s intervention.

“When people in the NDA were celebrating the apex court’s ruling in its favour, I felt sad because this was a clear instance of the judiciary encroaching into the jurisdiction of the legislature,” he said today.

The legislature does not discuss issues which are sub-judice, the irate Speaker said, and, therefore, the courts too should not interfere in the matters of the legislature. Namdhari, who had not attended the Speakers’ conference convened by the Lok Sabha Speaker on the relationship between legislature and the judiciary, today waxed eloquent in praise of Somnath Chatterjee.

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