'Indian Parliament is not sovereign', Jethmalani counters FM

Ram Jethmalani has said the judiciary could withstand "the pressure of a political document" when it was produced before the Supreme Court for its scrutiny.

Kochi: Eminent jurist Ram Jethmalani on Sunday asserted that Indian Parliament "is not sovereign" for its decisions can be challenged in court, as he hit out at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for criticising the Supreme Court verdict to scrap NJAC Act on appointment of higher judiciary.

National Judicial Appointments Commission Act was the "product of complete unity between the old corrupt government and the new corrupt one", the former BJP member alleged.

Speaking at the 155th anniversary celebrations of Indian Penal Code 1860, organised by Directorate of Prosecution in Kerala, Jethmalani came down heavily on Jaitley for terming "erroneous" the Supreme Court's reason for striking down the NJAC Act and saying "Indian democracy cannot be a tyranny of the unelected".

"Ask any politician, particularly the Prime Minister. He will tell you that Parliament of India is sovereign.

"Every student of the Constitution in the LLB class knows that Parliament of India is not a sovereign body...Parliament of England is sovereign because the judiciary has no power to set aside any legislative Act by the Parliament," Jethmalani said here, referring to the Supreme Court's verdict striking down as unconstitutional the NJAC Act which would have replaced the collegium system.

"Parliament of India is not a sovereign body. It is a truth," he said.

Countering Jaitley's argument, the 92-year-old former law minister said, "The judges of Supreme Court of India or even the High Court judges can never be called unelected because the law does not require them to be elected so that kind of adjective does not apply to the judges at all."

He said the judiciary could withstand "the pressure of a political document" when it was produced before the Supreme Court for its scrutiny.

Jethmalani also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the blackmoney issue, saying he failed to fulfill his promise despite canvassing in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls that blackmoney worth thousands of crores of rupees would be brought back and distributed to poor people of the country.

"He (Modi) went to the extent of telling the people that I will put Rs 15 lakh in the account of every poor man in the country," he said.

"Even till today they are not able to get back one dollar," he said, and warned that Bihar election results will be repeated if he fails to fulfill the promise made in the BJP manifesto for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

"Look at the kind of margin by which Modi has lost (in Bihar)," he said.

Jethmalani, who was expelled from BJP in 2013, said he wanted "nothing from him (Modi)" except "for God's sake fulfill the promise that you have made to the poor people of India".

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