The Supreme Court has refused to entertain the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed seeking a direction to the Lok Sabha Secretariat that the President of India should inaugurate the new Parliament building. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the new Parliament on May 28.
The Supreme Court’s vacation bench asked the petitioner, “What is your interest?” The petitioner responded, “The head of the executive is the President… President is my president.”
Justice Narasimha refused to entertain the PIL under Article 32 of the Constitution of India. He said, “We understand why you come with such petitions…we’re not interested in entertaining it under Article 32. Be grateful we are not imposing costs.”
The petitioner submitted that Article 79 of the Constitution states that the Parliament comprises of the President and the two houses. Justice Maheshwari asked, “How is Article 79 related to the inauguration?,” to which the petitioner responded, “President is the head of the parliament, he should open the building. Executive head is the only head who should open….”
Furthermore, the petitioner cited Article 87 of the Constitution which states that the session of the Parliament commences with the President’s special address. However, the vacation bench wondered about its relevance to the inauguration.
The petitioner sought permission to withdraw the case, after observing that the bench is unconvinced with his arguments. However, the Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta interjected. The Solicitor General urged the court not to allow the petitioner to withdraw the petition, as he would file the same before the High Court. The Solicitor General said that the court should conclusively declare that this case is not justiciable. Though, the petitioner chose to withdraw the petition as the court refused to entertain the case.
The PIL was filed seeking a direction to the Lok Sabha Secretariat that the President of India should inaugurate the new Parliament building. The petitioner argued that the Lok Sabha Secretariat has violated the Constitution of India by not inviting the President to the inauguration. The petitioner referred to Article 79 of the Constitution which read that the Parliament consists of the President and the two houses.
Furthermore, the petitioner submitted that the President is the first citizen of the country and has the power to summon and prorogue the Parliament sessions. The petitioner also submitted that the President appoints the Prime Minister and other ministers. The petitioner further submitted that all executive decisions are taken in the name of the President, therefore, not inviting the President for the inauguration is a humiliation and violation of the Constitution.
“President of India Smt. Droupadi Murmu is not being invited to the inauguration of the new Parliament Building. Indian President enjoys certain powers and performs a variety of ceremonial functions. The powers of the President include Executive, Legislative, Judiciary, emergency, and military powers…,” the petition read.
It is pertinent to note that the petitioner’s arguments before the Supreme Court are in consonance with the opposition parties’ joint statement against PM Narendra Modi inaugurating the new Parliament building.
Opposition Boycotts Parliament’s Inauguration
Nineteen Opposition parties, including Congress, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Shiv Sena (UBT), Trinamool Congress (TMC), and Janata Dal (United), announced they will boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building on May 28. “The inauguration of a new Parliament building is a momentous occasion. Despite our belief that the government is threatening democracy, and our disapproval of the autocratic manner in which the new Parliament was built, we were open to sinking our differences and marking this occasion. However, Prime Minister Modi’s decision to inaugurate the new Parliament building by himself, completely sidelining President Murmu, is not only a grave insult but a direct assault on our democracy which demands a commensurate response”, the statement read.
The statement read, “The Constitution of India states, in Article 79’ which states, “There shall be a Parliament for the Union which shall consist of the President and two Houses to be known respectively as the Council of States and the House of the People.” The President is not only the Head of State in India, but also an integral part of the Parliament. She summons, prorogues, and addresses the Parliament. She must assent for an Act of Parliament to take effect.”
“In short, the Parliament cannot function without the President. Yet, the Prime Minister has decided to inaugurate the new Parliament building without her. This undignified act insults the high office of the President, and violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution. It undermines the spirit of inclusion which saw the nation celebrate its first woman Adivasi President,” the statement added.
“We announce our collective decision to boycott the inauguration of the new Parliament building. We will continue to fight – in letter, in spirit, and in substance – against this authoritarian Prime Minister and his government, and take our message directly to the people of India” the statement reads.