‘Citizens must be proud’: CJI lauds bipartisan effort in women’s Bill passage

Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud on Saturday said that he found the “same bipartisan effort” in the passing of the women’s reservation Bill by the Parliament as in the drafting of India’s Constitution by the Constituent Assembly.

The CJI was delivering the inaugural address at the International Lawyers’ Conference organised by the Bar Council of India here. Speaking on the occasion, the CJI stressed the need for “nations, institutions and most importantly individuals are open to engage with and learn from one another, without feeling threatened or belittled”. The CJI said “the drafting of the Constitution by the Constituent Assembly is…a classic example of engaging beyond partisan lines. Individuals from different regions of India, diverse backgrounds, and even conflicting ideologies came together to draft the Constitution in one voice”.

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He pointed out such “bipartisan effort” could be seen in the passage of the women’s reservation Bill too. “We find the same bipartisan effort has gone into the passing of the women’s reservation Bill recently in Parliament and this is something which we as citizens of India must be proud of,” the CJI said, adding that there can be no better example than the Indian Constitution to illustrate the engagement between nations, constitutions and legal systems.

“From the drafting of our Constitution to the adjudication of constitutional questions, India has a rich tradition of engaging with foreign constitutions and precedents.” On engagement between institutions within the country, he said that “while the Constitution provides for separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary, it also creates a space for institutions to learn from each other and deliver justice”.

He said that “in our tendency to emphasise the differences, we often forget the abundant examples of collaboration between institutions to further the interest of justice. This holds true not only in lofty constitutional challenges, but more frequently, in the everyday interactions between courts and the government”. The CJI referred to a case from the 1980s when “the vires of a legislation that mandated rickshaw-pullers to be owners of the rickshaws they plied was under challenge before the Supreme Court” and pointed out that “instead of an adversarial approach, the Supreme Court and the Government worked together to craft a solution”.

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