Bombay High Court rejects plea seeking disqualification of Vice-President, Law Minister over remarks against Collegium, basic structure doctrine
The Bombay High Court on Thursday dismissed a petition seeking removal of Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Law Minister Kiren Rijiju from their posts on the grounds that they denounced the Collegium system of Indian judiciary and the basic structure doctrine on public forums.
The Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice S.V. Gangapurwala and Justice Sandeep Marne dismissed the petition, stating that the court was not inclined to entertain it. It, however, observed that for reasons to be recorded separately, the PIL was dismissed.
The Bombay Lawyers Association had filed a plea in the High Court seeking directions to restrain both Dhankar and Rijiju from discharging their duties, claiming that they have disqualified themselves from holding the constitutional posts of the Vice-President and a Minister of the Union Cabinet through their conduct and for lacking faith in the Constitution.
Terming the remarks against Judiciary made by the two government functionaries as a frontal attack on the Constitution, Advocate Ahmed Abdi, appearing for the petitioner, contended that the issue was affecting the public at large.
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Abdi submitted that the petitioner was not against debate, but the same should be held in Parliament or in a court, not on the streets. If they were serious, they should either introduce a bill in Parliament or approach the Supreme Court, added the lawyer.
Lamenting that the petitioner was in great anguish over the criticism of Collegium in public domain, the Counsel said that such remarks lowered the dignity of court in the eyes of people. This was not only derogatory to the Constitution, but was affecting the public at large. It could also lead to anarchy, he added.
Representing the respondent, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh termed the PIL as a frivolous, non-maintainable petition, which was filed with the sole object of getting publicity. He contended that before reaching the court, the petition was already in newspapers.
Talking about the grounds mentioned in the plea, the ASG said the Law Minister suggested to follow and respect the Constitution. There was no question of disrespecting the Constitution.
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He further said that Constitutional functionaries could only be removed under Articles 67, 102, 103 of the Constitution and not by a court.
The Apex Court sought to know from Abdi the provision under which the petitioner wanted the Court to exercise its discretion. The Counsel replied that the court should lay down a law on the matter.