Ex-CJI against bringing PM, higher judiciary under Lokpal

Former Chief Justice of India JS Verma has disapproved of Anna Hazare's demands of bringing the higher judiciary and the Prime Minister under the Lokpal's ambit, saying it will be against the Constitution's basic structure.

Terming as "undemocratic" Hazare's threat to go on another indefinite fast from August 16 if his demands on the Lokpal bill were not met, Verma said bringing judiciary under Lokpal's ambit will ultimately affect the democratic structure of the country.

"Absolutely not... It would be a mistake. It will foul with the basic structure of the Constitution. Judicial review is a basic feature (of the Constitution)...for which an independent judiciary is essential," Verma said in a television interview..

He was replying to a question on whether the higher judiciary should be brought under Lokpal's ambit as being demanded by the Gandhian and his supporters.

The former CJI also cautioned against making the Prime Minister a "lame duck" institution saying the "Prime Minister should only be accountable through Parliament" in the Parliamentary democracy that the country has adopted.

Verma dismissed contentions of civil society members that there was no problem in bringing the Prime Minister under Lokpal's ambit as he was already covered under ordinary laws. "If he (Prime Minister) is covered in those aspects under ordinary laws, you do not need a Lokpal to cover him for those things. And for the other things, you cannot have a lame duck Prime Minister because there is no provision for President's Rule at the Centre," he said.

Noting that bringing judiciary under Lokpal's ambit will create a circularity of accountability, whereby judges can be questioned by Lokpal and its orders can be challenged by courts, Verma said "it must be avoided at all costs".

Quoting Constitutional provisions about independence of judiciary, he said even the subordinate judiciary is also subject to control "only by the higher judiciary".

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