Jaitley opposed Bill to ratify LBA with Bangladesh
Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley had opposed the introduction of a Bill on the proposed Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh on the ground that Parliament has no legislative competence to pass the law as it would violate the basic structure of the Constitution.
New Delhi: Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley had opposed the introduction of a Bill on the proposed Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh on the ground that Parliament has no legislative competence to pass the law as it would violate the basic structure of the Constitution.
Notwithstanding his request for being allowed to oppose the introduction, the Constitution (One Hundred and Nineteenth) Amendment Bill, 2013, was tabled in the Rajya Sabha amidst din created by AGP and Trinamool Congress members.
In his letter dated December 5 to Secretary General of the Upper House, Jaitley had sought permission to oppose the Bill, saying it violates the basic structure of the Constitution as it seeks to alter the territory of India on Bangladesh border.
"My objection is based on the fact that after 1973 when the concept of basic structure of the Constitution was evolved in the Kesavanand Bharati case, Parliament has no jurisdiction to alter the territory of India. The territory represents the sovereignty and are both a part of the basic structure of the Constitution and thus unamenable," Jaitley said.
He insisted the power to amend the Constitution is restricted by Article 368 which implies that the basic structure cannot be altered. "Territory of India is a part of the Constitution. It cannot be reduced or altered by an amendment to the Constitution. I may be given permission to oppose the introduction of this Bill," Jaitley said in his letter.
Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid, who was to introduce the Bill, wrote to the Rajya Sabha Chairman on December 13 countering Jaitley`s claims.
"This is incorrect since India, as a sovereign state, has an inherent right to acquire foreign territory or alter or cede its territories and to suggest that it does not would be contrary to national interest," Khurshid said.
He cited the Berubari Union judgement (1960), the Union of India versus Sukumar Sengupta judgement (1990) and the Attorney General`s opinion to underline his point.
"The Supreme Court has upheld a universally acceptable principle that one of the attributes of sovereignty is the power to alter or cede parts of national territory, if necessary, but that power can only be exercised pursuant to a constitutional amendment under Article 368 which is sought to be done in the present case by way of a Constitutional amendment," Khurshid said.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today slammed the Centre for introducing the Bill providing for demarcation of the boundary with Bangladesh, saying it was "unilateral" and without consent of the state government.
"It is extremely unfortunate and shameless on the part of the Union Government to forcefully introduce the Land Boundary Agreement Bill in Parliament just seconds before the sine die adjournment of the current session," Banerjee said in a Facebook post.
Without naming Congress, she said, "It is a political gimmick of a particular political party ruling the country to serve its political purpose before general elections."