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CJI’s meet with UP law officials on Ayodhya sparks debate on separation of powers

In an unusual move, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi scheduled a meeting over security preparedness ahead of Ayodhya verdict expected to be pronounced next week.
The verdict on the 20-year-old Ayodhya case is expected to be pronounced within the next 10 days, before the current Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi retires on November 17. The Ministry of Home Affairs has released an advisory to all the law and order machinery in the country, asking that proper security be in place ahead of the verdict. 
On Friday, in an unusual move, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi scheduled a meeting with Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary Rajendra Kumar Tiwari, Director General of Police Om Prakash Singh and other senior police officials over preparedness ahead of probable Ayodhya verdict. Why is this unusual? Because law and order is a state subject, something that the Executive looks into, as per the separation of powers in India.
Simply put, in India, the model of governance rests on three pillars in India — the Legislature, that is the law; the Executive, which is the government and the Judiciary, the courts. These three have separate powers and are independent. Article 50 of the Constitution separates the Judiciary from the Executive — “The State shall take steps to separate the Judiciary from the Executive in the public services of the State.” The Legislature makes the law, the Executive ensures the implementation of the law and the Judiciary upholds and addresses breaches of law.
Speaking to TNM, Constitution expert Subhash Kashyap says that this meeting could be held simply because the CJI needs to be apprised of the situation on the ground. He, however, added that it would not be wise to speculate since the details and the grounds on which the CJI called for the meeting are not known yet.
“This meeting is unusual, yes, but this whole dispute is unusual, it has been going on for nearly 70 years. It is the longest-lasting and biggest dispute that has come to the Supreme Court. But we do not know exactly what the CJI is talking about — whether it has been declared that it is for the law and order situation, whether it amounts to interference in Executive functions or whether he simply wants to be informed of the arrangements made,” Subhash Kashyap said.
He cited previous instances where investigations and inquiries were held under the supervision of the Supreme Court.
“There have been instances where inquiries have been held under Supreme Court directions. In several cases, investigations have been held under SC’s supervision so one can say that this is not strictly a function of the judiciary but since people have tremendous faith in the judiciary, and they sometimes doubt that the Executive may be moved by political considerations, there have been inquiries by SITs held under SC supervision,” he added. 
Retired Justice K Chandru has called this meeting unprecedented and said ideally, there should be no real necessity for the Chief Justice to speak to the officials directly. 
“There is no necessity for the Chief Justice of India to speak to these officials on any critical situation that may arise in the aftermath of the judgment — this is for the Uttar Pradesh government and then the Central government to tackle. It is unnecessarily creating a situation where the court will have to brief the officials on any pending matter in which the decision has to be rendered,” Justice Chandru says.
The former judge opined that it looks as if the Chief Justice of India is overdoing his role before his exit and that it is not the court’s duty to warn or brief the officers when a state government is already in place.
“Unless he reveals the outcome of the decision of the court, then what kind of briefing that may do to those two officers? Any advance letting of the opinion will be a breach of the oath taken by him. Further, it is not the business of the court to issue an alert or warning to the officers when the state is represented by an elected government. Even if one feels that the local government will be biased, then the issue will have to be addressed to the central government, which can also be equally biased,” he said. 
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