We welcome the Supreme Court's verdict upholding the High Court ruling that declared the 16th Amendment of the Constitution, which empowered the parliament to impeach any apex court judge, illegal. The verdict finally reinstates the fundamental scheme of our Constitution that separates power between various organs of the state.
Those who argue that in many countries the parliament is empowered to impeach an apex court judge forget the fact that there is no Article 70 hanging as the Damocles sword on the head of those MPs. And in fact, Article 70 of the Constitution was one of the factors considered in the ruling against the 16th Amendment. The fact is that the original character of our parliament has undergone significant change with the introduction of Article 70 that prevents an MP from voting freely. A majoritarian parliament, such as we have now, makes it difficult to maintain objectivity when dealing with matters as crucial as the appointment or impeachment of judges.
Thus while some may argue that the 16th Amendment would have restored the Constitution to its original 1972 state, the current scenario makes such hopes impracticable. Rather, the removal of this amendment will uphold the original character of the Constitution by ensuring a judiciary that will work in unison with the executive but at the same time be independent of it. It will also allow for the enactment of a law on the appointment of judges to uphold the independence and dignity of the apex court. Controversial appointments in the past in the absence of a law in this regard have severely undermined the image of the SC.
It will, therefore, be prudent for the legislators to see the merit of this verdict, instead of a setback, which should help end any tussle between the judiciary and the executive. Certainly, the verdict upholds the dignity of the judiciary and the fundamental values of the Constitution.