From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not Much
Mains level : Farmers agitation
The Supreme Court has intended to stay the implementation of the controversial agricultural laws while proposing to form an independent committee chaired by a former CJI to resolve the stand-off between the protesting farmers and the Union government.
Q.The judicial systems in India and the UK seem to be converging as well as diverging in recent times. Highlight the key points of convergence and divergence between the two nations in terms of their judicial practices. (150W, CS Mains 2020)
Halting the farm laws
- The Parliament’s power to legislate, drawn from Article 254(1) of the Constitution, can only be restricted if the law violates the Constitution.
- How the Supreme Court operationalizes its suggestion to stay the operation of the three farm laws and open fresh talks via a committee will be evident.
- The Supreme Court has previously set up committees, delegating some of its powers to the members to implement or oversee a law or an order of the court.
- A line of precedents shows that courts have been very cautious while passing interim orders to stay laws passed by the Legislature.
The implementation of a law can be halted on two narrow grounds:
- The first ground is legislative competence, that is, if the court finds that the Parliament has no power to legislate on a subject matter.
- The other two grounds are if the law violates fundamental rights or any other provisions of the Constitution respectively.
- In matters involving the constitutionality of any legislation, courts should be extremely loath to pass an interim order,” a Supreme Court bench had said in 2013 ruling on the validity of the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products Regulation Act, 2003.
- At the time of final adjudication, the court can strike down the statute if found ultra vires of the Constitution.
- Even in 2019, the Supreme Court refused to stay amendments made in 2018 to the SCs and STs Atrocities Prevention Act saying that a law made by Parliament cannot be stayed.
- The court also refused to stay the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, which was also challenged after it drew protests across the country.
NJAC and Aadhaar Case
- Even strongly contested legislation such as the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) and Aadhaar was not stayed by the Supreme Court.
- They were, instead, stalled by the government for the duration of the protracted legal battles in court.
- While the NJAC Act, which contemplated a significant role for the executive in judicial appointments, was struck down as being violative of the basic structure, the SC upheld the Aadhaar Act.
What are the issues with the suspension?
- The court’s action, at first sight, is a violation of separation of powers.
- It also gives the misleading impression that a distributive conflict can be resolved by technical or judicial means.
- It is also not a court’s job to mediate a political dispute.
- Its job is to determine unconstitutionality or illegality.
- Even in suspending laws there needs to be some prima facie case that these lapses might have taken place.
- It has set a new precedent for putting on hold laws passed by Parliament without substantive hearings on the content of the laws.
- Also in appointing the committee, the court has violated the first rule of mediation: The mediators must be acceptable to all parties and appointed in consultation with them.
The Supreme Court order has given the government a setback while not addressing the concerns of the protesting farmers. The court needs to consider these facts and mend its implications.