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Jaitley reminds Congress of Nehru, Indira eras over Justice KM Joseph elevation

New Delhi [India], June 10 : Union Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley on Sunday slammed the Congress over its protests against the government's move on Judge KM Joseph's elevation to the Supreme Court.

The Union Minister in his Facebook post referred to several instances in the past when judges were superseded and attempts were made to influence judgments.

"Times moved on and through a series of judicial pronouncements the court started diluting the role of the executive in judicial appointments. The Constitution envisages an important role for the executive. It is a part of the democratic accountability. Past experiences perhaps weighed with the court in diluting the role of the executive in judicial appointments. The executive can give inputs; it can even refer a recommendation back with relevant inputs for reconsideration but is eventually bound by the recommendations. This is contrary to the text of the Constitution," Jaitley said.

Jaitley also targeted the Congress which has recently launched a tirade against Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government for indulging in "revenge politics" by "refusing" to clear the elevation of KM Joseph to the Supreme Court.

"The hue and cry made by my friends in the Congress Party recently when the Government referred a case back for reconsideration, fades into the oblivion. It is part of the much-diluted role of an elected Government that relevant inputs be brought to the notice of the collegium. This is consonance with democratic accountability. All must know this important chapter of history," he said in his blog post.
Jaitley began his post by citing a case from the Nehru era. He said, "When Justice Kania started recommending names for appointment to the High Courts, it caused a significant flutter."

He added, "Justice H.J. Kania took over as the first Indian Chief Justice of the Federal Court - the pre-constitution predecessor of the Supreme Court. When Justice Kania started recommending names for appointment to the High Courts, it caused a significant flutter. Pt. Nehru questioned his suitability to be the first Chief Justice of India. It was only Patel's pragmatism that had enabled him to "manage" Justice Kania."

Moving to the Indira Gandhi era, Jaitley said, "Chief Justice Hidayatullah recommended the names of Justice S.P. Kotwal, the Chief Justice of Bombay; Justice M.S. Menon, Chief Justice of Kerala to the Supreme Court. The executive did not respond to either of the two names and ignored the recommendations. The Chief Justice meekly submitted and never questioned the inaction."

Picking up the famous Kesavananda Bharati case from the past, the BJP leader said, "It goes to Andhyarjuna's credit that having appeared with H.M. Seervai on the Government side, he has authored a brilliant and accurate day by day history of how the Kesavananda case proceeded. There was acrimony on the bench."

Andhyarjuna's book, The Kesavananda Bharati Case - the Untold Story of Struggle for Supremacy by the Supreme Court and Parliament, was published in 2011.

Jaitley shared few excerpts from the book, "The citizen was represented by Nani Palkhiwala and the government by H M Seervai with supporting arguments from Attorney General Niren De."

"When a judge asked counsel a question, someone with an alternate opinion on the bench would answer it. It was a thirteen judge bench and the obvious object of both sides in a dividing bench was to reach the figure of 7 for the law to be laid down. There are several interesting episodes which need to be stated," he added.

Concluding his blog, Jaitley said he has written it so that "my friends in the Congress party get an opportunity to look at the mirror."

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