Tue, 30 May 2023

New Delhi [India], March 24 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the plea seeking substantive steps in order to ensure that citizens can have their voices heard in Parliament.

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud and also comprising Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala dismissed the plea saying that a citizen cannot seek a right to stand up in Parliament.

The court said that citizens can go to their local MP and present their views but cannot seek a right to stand up in Parliament.

The court ruled further that the demand of the petitioner is within the domain of the Parliament and state legislatures and they can not tell the Parliament what to do. The court said that it has to draw a line.

The court was hearing a plea seeking substantive steps to ensure that citizens can have their voices heard in Parliament without facing undue barriers and difficulties.

The petition was filed by Karan Garg, a Punjab resident who has done B. Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, USA. The petitioner was represented by advocates Rohan J Alva and Aby P Varghese. The petition was filed by Joby P Varghese, an advocate.

The petitioner prayed for substantive steps to ensure that citizens can have their voices heard in Parliament without facing undue barriers and difficulties. The petitioner said he filed the petition seeking the enforcement of the fundamental right to free speech and expression contained in Article 19(1)(a) as well as the fundamental rights guaranteed by Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution.

The petitioner said as an ordinary citizen of India, he feels disempowered when it comes to participation in the democratic process. "After the people cast their votes and elect their representatives to Parliament as well as to the state legislatures, there is no scope for any further participation. There is a complete absence of any formal mechanism by which citizens can engage with the lawmakers and take steps in order to ensure that issues, which are vitally important, are debated in Parliament," the petitioner said.

The petitioner said his petition presents a detailed and nuanced framework under which citizens can prepare petitions, and seek popular support for them and if a citizen's petition crosses a prescribed threshold then it has to be mandatorily taken up for discussion and debate in Parliament.

"Indeed, a system by which citizens can directly petition Parliament is already in place in the United Kingdom and it has been working well for many years. Indeed, several citizen petitions have been filed many of which have actually been taken up for discussion in the House of Commons. A system by which citizens directly petition the Parliament has been found to be perfectly consistent with the Westminster model. There is as such no difficulty in implementing the same system in India," read the petition.

"To issue an appropriate writ, order, direction declaring that it is the fundamental right of citizens under Article 14, Article 19(1)(a), and Article 21 to directly petition the Parliament of India in order seek the initiation of a debate, discussion and deliberation on the issues highlighted by the citizens in their petitions," it stated further.

"To issue an appropriate writ, order, direction to the Respondents to expeditiously take steps to create an appropriate system and/or well-reasoned and reasonable rules and regulations which empower citizens to petition the Parliament of India and seek the initiation of a debate, discussion and deliberation on the issues and concerns highlighted by the citizens in their petitions," the petitioner stated. (ANI)

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