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Democracy Can’t be ‘Tyranny of Unelected’: Jaitley on NJAC Verdict

On NJAC, Jaitley says democracy can’t be ‘tyranny of unelected’. Kejriwal takes a cue and Congress hits back.

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Jaitley’s response to NJAC judgement: Indian democracy cannot be a “tyranny of the unelected”. (Photo: PTI)

In a strongly-worded criticism of the Supreme Court’s reasoning for striking down the NJAC Act, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Indian democracy cannot be a “tyranny of the unelected”. He further said that to strengthen the independence of judiciary, one does not have to weaken Parliamentary sovereignty.

Terming as “erroneous logic” reasons given by a five-judge Constitution bench which declared as unconstitutional the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014 as also the 99th Constitution Amendment, Jaitley warned that democracy would be in danger if the “elected are undermined”.

“The Indian democracy cannot be a tyranny of the unelected and if the elected are undermined, democracy itself would be in danger,” he said in a Facebook post titled The NJAC Judgement – An Alternative View, which he termed as his “personal view”.

Jaitley, also a former Law Minister, said as someone concerned about the independence of judiciary and the sovereignty of Parliament, he believed that the two can and must co-exist.

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Kejriwal Takes the Cue

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal later latched onto Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s remarks over Supreme Court’s NJAC verdict to fire his latest salvo at the Centre, saying the AAP has been demanding a Delhi shorn of the “tyranny of the unelected”.

The AAP government and Lt Governor, who represents the Centre, have been locked in a bitter fight over several issues including control over the bureaucracy.

The Delhi CM has written a number of letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last few months seeking his intervention in allowing the Delhi government to function independently.

Congress Hits Back

Meanwhile, the Congress said Jaitley should not forget that imperiousness of numbers often converts elected governments into “unabashed autocrats”.

In a statement, Congress’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also targeted the Centre saying Jaitley’s comments criticising the order on NJAC reflects “intolerance” on the part of the Narendra Modi government with autonomy of institutions.

Acrimonious attack on Supreme Court by Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley (through a blog) is a travesty of Constitutional sovereignty. From calling in question the ‘Constitutional sanctity’ of Rajya Sabha, virtually directing a Constitutional functionary like CAG ‘to not sensationalise its findings’, describing protest by authors/free thinkers as ‘manufactured’ and ‘paper rebellion’ to describing the Supreme Court of India as ‘tyranny of the unelected’, Arun Jaitley’s contemptuous bluster against Supreme Court of India reflects intolerance of Modi government with autonomy of institutions.
— Randeep Surjewala

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