Judiciary’s duty to protect Constitutional rights: Kabir

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NEW DELHI, July 18: Rejecting charges of overreach by the Supreme Court in the context of dance bar case, outgoing Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir on Thursday said it was the duty of the judiciary to protect the Constitutional rights of people.

There was no friction between judiciary and the executive and there was no over-reaching by the courts, whose duty it was to tell the executive to do its work, he said.

“Well, the reaction to that is simple. That we are doing our job. Legislature is doing its job, the executive is doing its own job. What was fair to me, something which was against the Constitutional rights of the people, is not, and is certainly not, the jurisdiction of the legislature or the executive.

“If the constitutional rights of the people have been affected, it is the duty of the judiciary to see that they are duly protected,” Justice Kabir told reporters as he left the courts on his last day as CJI.

He was asked about the criticism that judiciary was over-reaching into the domain of the executive and that after the judgement in the Mumbai dance bar girls case there was criticism in the Maharashtra assembly that if the Supreme Court judges want to run the country let them be elected.

Two days ago, the Supreme Court upheld the Bombay High Court decision to strike down the state government’s seven-year old order closing the dance bars.

Justice Kabir said there was no friction at all between judiciary and other organs.

“There is no question of encroachment. You see, if somebody does not do his work, then, we as the court, we have the power of mandamus to tell him to do his work. There is no question of over-reaching. It is a question of people not doing their work, making them do their work,” he said.

Asked if that was why the judiciary steps in, the CJI replied “that’s right, that’s just it.”

He would not reply to a question on a perception that legislature was not working properly saying he would not go into the “very controversial” issue.

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