People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 15

April 15, 2007

‘Recent Judgements Evoke Apprehensions’

V S Achutanandan’s Speech At CMs & CJs Conference


The following are excerpts of the speech delivered by Kerala chief minister V S Achutanandan at the conference of chief ministers of states and chief justices of high courts held in New Delhi on April 8, 2007.


THE architects of the Constitution conceived India at the first instance, to be a sovereign secular democratic republic. Even after quarter of a century of the working of the Constitution, the inequalities amongst the citizens continued. Hence 42nd amendment was introduced whereby our country was declared a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic. The mandate of the people to establish a socialist society, however, even today, remains a dream despite various legislative measures. Judiciary has to rise to the occasion and contribute to the establishment of a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic.


The three most important pillars of democracy – the judiciary, legislature and executive – have a vital role to play in our democratic system. They have to function with mutual understanding and respect. The legislations for the uplift of masses are enacted by the legislatures and judiciary has to review and ensure the proper implementation of these legislations keeping the real spirit in mind.


But some of the recent judgements of the courts evoke many apprehensions. The Supreme Court has recently held that laws included under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution are subject to judicial review. This judgement has serious implications, especially, for the millions of farmers and landless peasants, who hitherto were being protected by the Ninth Schedule. The important legislations promulgated by various state legislatures and parliament got constitutional immunity by being included in the Ninth Schedule. The land reform laws and laws relating to nationalisation were brought under the Ninth Schedule primarily to ward off judicial interventions. If these are again brought to the judicial review, it will be a bolt from the blue and will revert us to the pre-independent era and Zamindari system.


It is the bounden duty of the judiciary to safeguard and protect the legislations passed by the state legislatures and parliament to fulfill the aspirations of the majority of toiling masses. It is in this context that we have to link two major events, which occurred in Kerala recently. One is regarding the orders of the High Court nullifying some major provisions of the recently adopted Kerala Education Act. The Act aims at eradication of rampant commercialisation and corruption in unaided professional educational institutions and envisages merit and social justice as a criterion for admission in the professional colleges. The other is the case of issuing arrest warrant by a judicial magistrate against two members of the Kerala legislative assembly who requested exemption from personal appearance on a particular day to attend the legislative session summoned by the governor of the state.


The recent judgement of the Supreme Court on OBC reservation in higher educational institutions has attracted nationwide protests and criticism.


I would like to draw the kind attention of this august forum to have a rethinking on the attitude of the courts towards other pillars of the democracy. I am of the firm belief that democracy would flourish only if all these constitutional bodies work in tandem for a strong secular, socialist and democratic society.


The delay in disposal of the cases is the most important malady we are facing today. We all know that lakhs of cases are pending for disposal in various courts of the country. The pace of disposal has to be accelerated by the application of new scientific technologies and by creating more and more fast track courts. Progress at a snail’s pace in the disposal of cases would tantamount to creating apathy and, the confidence of people in the judicial system will gradually erode. So, the need of the hour is constructive and concrete time-bound measures to tackle the situation.


Another important area I would like to touch upon relates to appointment of judges in various courts. A fruitful consultation between the judiciary and executive on the matter is necessary. Although some formal consultation is being done now, it should be made more effective and fruitful. The existing situation has to be ameliorated and consensus in the matter has to be arrived at with the state governments. I hope that this would be possible by mutual trust and consultation. It is time that we may think in terms of reservation even in the higher judiciary.


I conclude with the hope that this historic meeting would help in strengthening the healthy relationship between the pillars of democracy and usher in a progressive, secular, socialist and democratic society.