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Jaitley calls for judiciary to observe self-restraint

New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said independent judiciary was"extremely important" as it adds to"quality of democracy" but executive decisions should not be taken by it."Executive decisions are to be taken by the executive and not by the judiciary," he said at a press conference here."I think independent judiciary is extremely important. It is rightly stressed that independence of judiciary adds to the quality of democracy. It is a part of the 'basic structure'. Just as an independent judiciary is part of the basic structure of the Constitution, primacy of the legislature is also a part of the basic structure," the minister said. When the executive takes a decision, there are three recourses open against that decision -- people can represent and ask the executive to change it; courts can strike it down if it is illegal; and people can vote out the executive if the decision is unpopular. So there are different layers of accountability that an executive has when it takes an executive decision, Jaitley said. But when the courts exercise executive powers then there is no public criticism available, there is no democratic right to vote out the decision-maker and there is no judicial review available, the minister added."The courts have a legitimate authority within their parameters to review the correctness of an executive decision. But the courts cannot substitute executive work and say I will exercise the executive power. That's how democracy functions. To preserve the basic structure of the judiciary we cannot compromise on the other two," he said. While speaking in the Rajya Sabha recently in the context of the GST Bill, the finance minister had urged the MPs not to hand over budgetary and taxation powers to the judiciary. He also claimed that the judiciary was encroaching on legislative and executive authority."Step by step, brick by brick, the edifice of India's legislature is being destroyed," Jaitley had said during a discussion on the Appropriation (No.2) Bill 2016 and the Finance Bill, 2016 in the upper house. --IANS sk/bim/dg