Chandigarh, March 20:
The framers of the Constitution in their prudent far-sighted vision did visualize the degeneration of principles of governance with the passage of time at the hands of the vested interests. Probably, that is why, to safeguard the pillars of parliamentary democracy, they did not leave any ambiguity while defining the role and jurisdiction of Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. The main concern of them was to see that there is no possibility of transgression by one wing of governance into the other by the persons guided by personal motives Hence, they made the above division sacrosanct.
The news regarding a proposal before the House over a letter written by the Deputy Speaker, Shri Sat Pal Gosain, to withdraw cases against the politicians is fraught with latent dangers primarily losing the faith of the people whom they elected as their representatives. Nobody will relish the idea of shattering the mechanism of checking corruption by the people holding high positions in Government. Such a move, if succeeds, would further paint the politicians as untrustworthy. It will not only mean attempt of blatant transgression into the domain of judiciary but also strike at the basic fabric of law i.e. equality before law. It will create a new class of privileged corrupts enjoying immunity from being tried for all kinds crimes including corruption. While the ordinary corrupts (non-politicians) would face the Courts of law for similar crimes, the politicians could well be put off the hook of law as a result of this sinister move. This would also be a direct infringement of the basic postulates of the Indian Constitution as enshrined in its Preamble i.e. Equality before Law. It is all the more objectionable when the cases of corruption, at one stage or the other, have stood scrutiny of charges up to the Apex Court of India.
The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, under Rule 39 governing the admissibility of a Question before the House clearly sheds a light as to which matter should be discussed in the House as under:
(8) it shall not ask for an expression of a legal opinion nor the solution of an abstract legal question of a hypothetical proposition;
(10) it shall not ask for information on any mater which is under adjudication by a court of law having jurisdiction in any part of India;
The guidelines laid in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, for admissibility of a question before the House clearly mandate that the House should be cautious in even entertaining discussion over a matter which is pending consideration before any court of law.
Since the cases classified as political vendetta are pending consideration for the last 5-6 years in the case of Akali leaders and 3 years approximately in the case of Congress leaders before different Courts of law and have traveled long enough, the proposal to withdraw the same, under the guise of political vendetta, will tantamount to interference in the administration of justice, for the reason that the alibi of political vendetta by the accused has failed to put a cog in the wheels of justice. In my considered view, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha must not tread into the territory of the judiciary merely on the advice of the Advocate General but also must seek the opinion of the constitutional experts and eminent jurists of the country to avoid confrontation with judiciary.
The reaction of Captain Amarinder Singh expressing his views against any such move is laudable and worth emulating by the other leaders. In my personal opinion, the House certainly has the power to review its decision on expulsion of Captain Amarinder Singh for the remaining period of the present Vidhan Sabha if the House in its collective wisdom feels about the quantum of punishment being excessive in his particular case. In this process, the decision of the House can be revoked and his Membership can be restored. However, even this particular move has its own repercussions because the issue is pending before the Constitutional Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court. So, it is also fraught with the possibility of earning displeasure of the Supreme Court because the matter is being deliberated upon and pending adjudication before the Constitutional Bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court.
My personal opinion based on a political career of over three decades, including two terms as Member of Punjab Vidhan Sabha, especially having been adjudged as the Best Parliamentarian of the 12th Vidhan Sabha as also the Deputy Speaker of the House, is that we should wait and respect the decisions of the Courts in all such cases which pertain to the politicians and hesitate from giving any inkling of lack of faith in the system of jurisprudence of the country. It is all the more a matter of grave pondering for the Members of this august House not to earn the stigma of brazen abuse of power in assuming the role of accused, prosecutor and a judge in utter disregard of the law of the land.
BIR DEVINDER SINGH
Former Deputy Speaker Punjab
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