Tinsel Gods

New Parliament building

It is a great disappointment that the Supreme Court bench of JK Maheswari and PS Narasimha has refused to entertain the petition by an advocate seeking a prohibition of the forthcoming inauguration of the new Parliament building by the incumbent Prime Minister on the ground that article 79 makes the President the head of the state and pre-eminent member of Parliament and it is his due right and responsibility to inaugurate the building seating both the houses of Parliament. Their lordships had held out a peremptory threat to dismiss the petition unless the petitioner withdrew it,whereupon the hapless advocate hastily withdrew it.

The Supreme Court has expressed its ire on the submission of the petition under art.32.There have been other instances when SC had dismissed such petitions on the ground that those did not affect the rights of the petitioner personally in any way.The past press reports had not mentioned the article of the Constitution under which the petition had been moved.But it now turns out that the petitioner has referred to the President as “my President.”A very tenuous link indeed.

If it is so,the petitioner had just spoilt the chances of someone else who had a stronger ground for challenging it.For example an opposition MP,being a member of the house that has its seniormost member in the President,can rightly plead that the dignity of the house had been lowered by not inviting her to the inauguration ceremony and there was also a breach of propriety in the PM jumping the queue.

The Assam Chief Minister has cited some sort of precedent in the recorded fact that Chief Ministers,and not Governors had in the past inaugurated new assembly buildings several times.That is not in the same league, but even if it happened in the past wrong instances could not serve as precedents for current practice.

The deliberate and undignified decision not to issue an invitation to the President to which she was entitled was taken ungraciously as by protocol she could not have been bypassed in any way.This is a brazen instance of the way in which public functionaries gang up to aggrandize the image of the Prime Minister and the way in which the latter acquiesces.The design is….ahem!….to make him “the most visible Prime Minister in the world”.

Hiren Gohain is a political commentator

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