Special Report

Relations between judiciary and executive: Unseemly spat

Public sparring between the executive and the higher judiciary is highly avoidable. But as the proceedings of the National Law Day function last week revealed, turf wars are difficult to avoid when there is no impartial referee to demarcate the divide. Neither side to the dispute is innocent. Law Minister Rabi Shankar Prasad revealed that he is still smarting under the rejection of the National Judicial Appointments Commission which was passed by Parliament unanimously.

The stalemate over the framing of the proposed Memorandum of Procedure for such appointments remains in limbo long after the rejection of the NJAC. This speaks of the seemingly unbridgeable distance between the two vital wings of the Constitution. Thanks to the instrumentality of PIL, the judiciary has shown no compunction in steeping on the toes of the executive, though it was the sheer recklessness of the Indira Gandhi administration in appointing ‘committed’ judges that finally caused the apex court to seize the upper hand in judicial appointments.

Relations between judiciary and executive have grown more fraught since then. Only an unlikely confluence of sagacious minds at the head of the respective institutions can end the impasse. For the smooth working of the Constitution, it is important that the judiciary and the executive work out a modus vivendi till their relations can be put on a firmer footing.