In a letter written to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, a Congress Member of Parliament Shantaram Naik has questioned the “basic structure” doctrine, which acts as a check against legislative overreach. In his letter, the Rajya Sabha MP from Goa, Shantaram Naik has asked BJP to act against what he calls judicial encroachments to rights of Parliamentarians. He has asked for a special session to discuss judicial activism, an Indian Express report said.
‘Basic structure’ is a Supreme Court backed principle under which some features of the Constitution, including fundamental rights, cannot be changed, diluted or destroyed through amendments by Parliament. The principle, which was reinforced in the 1973 Kesavananda Bharti case, is considered a benchmark in the debate over division of powers.
“I feel the time has come. The BJP can do it. They can challenge this doctrine,” Naik was quoted as saying by Indian Express. “In Lok Sabha, the BJP has a majority, and in Rajya Sabha, they can agree with a consensus. But it’s only BJP who can now act on this and stop this systematic encroachment by the judiciary,” he further told the paper.
He further said that if a special session of the Parliament is called on the issue, then everyone will come forward to put this on record.
In a letter to Arun Jaitley and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, Naik writes, “Perhaps, you may or may not agree with me with respect to all the points that I seek to articulate on the issue of judicial interference but, it started with ‘invention’ of ‘basic structure’ if the constitution which, even Dr B R Ambedkar, perhaps never dreamt in his wildest dreams but, has, today, has become a law, which perhaps, no one can touch, ” the Indian Express quoted him as saying.
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He further wrote, “If there was anything called ‘basic structure’ incorporated in the Constitution, founders of our Constitution would have, certainly seen it but, it is Supreme Court of India who discovered that there was what is called ‘basic structure’ imbibed in the constitution which, the parliamentarians, who are the representatives of the people, according to Supreme Court cannot question. This means, if presuming for a moment, parliamentarians desire through any democratic process, to change country’s parliamentary form of government to presidential form of government, they are forbidden from doing so as, according to the judgment, it would be changing the basic structure.”