Why state legislatures can’t have an opinion on central law, asks SC asks petitioner to challenge Assembly resolutions against CAA
On Friday, the Supreme Court questioned a petitioner filing a public interest dispute (PIL) whether state legislatures had “limited freedom of opinion” over central laws.
The petition was filed to challenge resolutions passed by several state assemblies condemning the Citizenship Act (CAA) passed by parliament.
Hearing the case, a bench led by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde asked if there could be an argument that state legislatures have “limited freedom of opinion.”
The DIP was filed by an NGO called Samta Andolan Samiti.
In it, the NGO asserted that by passing resolutions against the CAA, the state assemblies of Rajasthan, Kerala, Punjab and West Bengal “have entered a strict blackout zone for legislatures of ‘State under the Constitution, for the sole purpose of inciting unrest and disaffection among the citizens of said States and making cheap political gain’.
The Supreme Court did not accept this argument, however.
“This (resolution against the CAA) is only an expressed opinion. They did not tell people not to follow the law. They only asked Parliament to reconsider. It is a resolution, an opinion of Assembly. Can we say to the legislature no to have an opinion? ” asked the bench.
Soumya Chakraborty, representing the NGO, however argued that state legislatures “can not rule in any way on a law passed by Parliament”.
He also cited the Kerala Assembly Rules to argue that there is “limited freedom of speech and expression for the legislature”.
“If they can’t pass a law on a central list issue, neither can they have an opinion. It’s not the state’s business. ‘State stipulate that they cannot comment on Parliament,’ he argued.
The bench also comprising judges AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramaniam, however, asked Chakraborty to “do further research” on these aspects.
“We don’t want to create more problems than solve them,” said CJI Bobde.
The case will now be heard in April.
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