The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) brought by a lawyer, which sought to ensure that President Droupadi Murmu inaugurates the new parliament building in place of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The petitioner claimed that the Lok Sabha secretariat and the central government were “humiliating” the president by not extending an invitation to the ceremony.
The filing of the petition coincided with the huge controversy surrounding the inauguration of the new parliament building by Prime Minister Modi on Sunday. At least 20 opposition parties have decided to skip the ceremony in protest at what they perceive as the marginalization of the president.
In a collective statement on Wednesday, the opposition parties criticized the government, saying: “When the soul of democracy has been sucked out of Parliament, we find no value in a new building.” The ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) responded quickly, calling the decision to boycott “contemptuous.”
The petition by lawyer Jaya Sukin argued that the Lok Sabha secretariat’s statement issued on May 18, together with the invitation extended by the General Secretary, Lok Sabha, regarding the inauguration, violated the Constitution.
He stressed the role of the president as the “first citizen of India and head of the institution of Parliament”, and called for the intervention of the Supreme Court.
The petition came after Lok Sabha Chairman Om Birla met the Prime Minister and invited him to inaugurate the new building. This event follows a precedent set in 2020 when Prime Minister Modi laid the foundation stone for the building in an event that most opposition parties chose to avoid.
The petition also cited Article 79 of the Constitution, which states that the parliament consists of the President of India and the two houses, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. The petition claimed that the defendants were not respecting the Constitution.
He also referred to Article 87, which mandates the president’s speech at the beginning of each parliamentary session, and argued that this constitutional provision was being ignored, leading to the “humiliation” of President Droupadi Murmu.
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