NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India N V Ramana Monday said Parliament was earlier dominated by legal professionals who gave an “outstanding Constitution and flawless laws” but now the number of lawyers has dwindled and the space has been taken by others.
While felicitating Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, Justice Ramana said “His (Dhankar's) elevation is a tribute to our healthy democratic traditions and rich constitutional values.'' ''It is testimony to the fact that our progressive Constitution provides opportunities to all, irrespective of caste, creed, religion, region, and financial status,” the CJI said.
Justice Ramana said it is on the strength of the democracy that Dhankhar, a senior advocate, could reach the second highest office in the country, in spite of hailing from a rural background and without a political father or Godfather.
While mentioning the contribution of the legal community in the freedom struggle of the country and the framing of the Constitution, Justice Ramana said “In the constituent assembly and in the early days of our Parliament, the House was dominated by legal professionals.” “As a result, we got outstanding Constitution and flawless laws. Now a days the number of lawyers has dwindled and that space is taken by others. I do not want to comment any further,” the CJI said He said with his (Dhankhar's) experience and guidance from the Office of Chairman of Rajya Sabha, he hoped and believed that the quality of laws would certainly improve.
“Unlike the offices, he held so far, the high office of Vice-President comes with far greater responsibilities. During his tenure, Dhankhar will have the unique and challenging opportunity to ensure the smooth functioning of the Rajya Sabha as its ex-officio Chairman. This calls for harmonizing the interests of all sides of the House.
“I know it is not easy to satisfy each Hon'ble Member of the House. But, I am confident that with his rich court craft and exposure in diverse fields, Dhankhar Ji will definitely manage to take along all sections of the House. His past experience as Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in the 1990s would greatly contribute during his new stint as the chairman of the Rajya Sabha,” he said.
Besides Justice Ramana, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, and Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Vikas Singh were also present at the felicitation programme of Dhankhar who was a senior lawyer and used to practice in the apex court.
Speaking at the function, Rijiju said he would be meeting Dhankhar more often as he presides over as Chairman of Rajya Sabha.
“I can only caution him that being in all the positions in the past will prove to be very easy than the presiding officer's role in the Rajya Sabha. When I entered Parliament, our stalwarts Atal Bihari Vajpayee and…. were there and lots of debates used to take place in the Lok Sabha as well as in the Rajya Sabha. The debates take place now also but unfortunately, the disruptions and noise are only reported through media. The quality of debates is not being reported as it should be,” he said.
He further said the only difference he has seen is that earlier it used to be less noisy in the Rajya Sabha while the Lok Sabha was always very noisy.
“But now the Rajya Sabha is equally noisy so I think with the ability of respected Jagdeep Ji, he will handle in the best possible manner and will make the Rajya Sabha very interesting with his wit, knowledge, and ability and his wisdom will definitely prevail upon especially on the very indisciplined members,” Rijiju said.
He said there are different characters in the House with members from diverse backgrounds and all are neither the same nor equal.
Everybody is gifted differently and the Chairman has to tackle them in his way and he has to handle some of the extraordinarily active members, the Law minister said.
Being a renowned lawyer, it will be very useful for Dhankhar as in Parliament, members stand up every now and then to challenge rules and provisions “so a person like me who does not have a better understanding of the law, I become a handicap,” he said, adding that Dhankar is going to be an asset for the Parliament and the country.
He congratulated Dhankhar on assuming the office of Vice-President of India and said it gives immense joy that someone from the legal fraternity has reached such a position.
Justice Ramana said legal education, practice, and acquaintance with the justice system expose one to many social realities and gives a deeper understanding of rule of law and equity and someone with all these learnings entering high office is certainly a value addition.
“Jagdeep Dhankhar is known to have a proactive approach. Be it as a lawyer, as an elected representative, as a minister, or as a Governor till recently, he made a mark through his proactive approach,” he said. The CJI said he is going to retire soon and he hopes to watch television, quality debates in Rajya Sabha being presided over by Dhankhar. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said Dhankhar was the only Vice President who is a lawyer and has practiced in the Supreme Court.
Senior advocate and SCBA President Vikas Singh said Dhankhar has been the protector of justice and always ensured that justice is percolated to the weaker section of the society.