The Supreme Court’s interpretation of a constitutional concept “can be very, very dangerous” Attorney General K K Venugopal has said, warning the court was granting itself vast power.
Venugopal, the government’s top legal officer, said on Saturday because of constitutional morality, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's fear that the Supreme Court will become the third chamber of Parliament might come true.
"The use of constitutional morality can be very, very dangerous and we can't be sure where it will lead us to. I hope Constitutional morality dies," Venugopal said at the second J Dadachanji Memorial Debate.
"As a powerful weapon which surpassed all the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by the Constitution, Article 142 merely permitted the Court to pass such decree or make such order as to do complete justice in any cause or matter pending before the court. But the Article was treated as a Kamadhenu from which unlimited powers flowed to the apex court of the country."
Venugopal, while talking about the history of conflict between the judiciary and the legislature, underscored that in its early days, top court struck down land reform and nationalisation laws as the judges noted that it violates equality. "The laws were struck down on a strict and literal interpretation of the Constitution."
Criticising a recent judgment, he said: "In Sabarimala case, the dissenting judge said we can't interfere with a matter of faith. But other four judges dealt with constitutional morality. It's one thing for Supreme Court to deal with an individual, but here you're dealing with a whole population.
“What is this Constitutional morality? If a bench of the Supreme Court speaks in two different voices, one saying Constitutional morality will permit the entry of women and the other one which says no, it's prohibited because of Constitutional morality, which is a very dangerous weapon. You cannot use it. It can result in grave injury without anyone knowing where it's going to end," he said while referring to the Sabarimala case.
Recalling the statement made by then Chief Justice Hidayatullah on amendments in the Constitution, Venugopal said that the former stated that the only purpose of the amendments was "to neutralise the judgements of the Supreme Court." Venugopal added that given the circumstances it is "very difficult to say whether the court was right."
Expressing dissent over the interference of the top court, Venugopal said, "The Preamble of the Constitution reads, 'we, the people'. We gave to ourselves this Constitution. Are you going to treat the whole of the population as illiterate and not able to think for themselves? I say no. Maybe the illiteracy today is 26 per cent, but even those (people living in the villages and rural areas), they have basic wisdom and they know what is good for them. And therefore, for the court to believe that unless we interfere, the country is doomed, I say no, it can't.