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`Preserve independence of Legislature'

Special Correspondent

Governor inaugurates celebrations to mark golden jubilee of Kerala Assembly



TRADITIONAL BEGINNING: Governor R.L. Bhatia lighting a lamp to mark the inauguration of the golden jubilee of the Kerala Legislative Assembly in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The year-long celebrations to mark the golden jubilee of the Kerala Legislative Assembly began here on Friday with a fervent call from veteran leaders to preserve the independence of the legislature and to strictly adhere to the Constitutional scheme under which the jurisdiction of the three pillars of democracy in the country have been clearly demarcated.

The emphasis of many a speech was on upholding the prestige of the House and on not entering into avoidable confrontations with the judiciary. Governor R.L. Bhatia, who inaugurated the celebrations at a sombre function attended by a large number of past and present members of the House including the former Chief Minister K. Karunakaran and chaired by Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan at the Legislature Complex, used the occasion to remind the House and its present members about the dangers of crossing the Constitutional `Lakshman Rekha.'

The Governor called for efforts to ensure that the three pillars of democracy functioned in a complementary manner and said it was heartening to note that the Kerala Assembly had established itself as the bedrock of democracy with several legislation that were worthy of replication elsewhere in the country to its credit. He called upon the members of the Assembly to strive hard to rise up to the aspirations of the masses and to pledge themselves to remain worthy of the trust reposed on them by the people.

Nagaland Governor and former Kerala Finance Minister K. Sankaranarayanan also touched on the theme and said the legislature and the judiciary would do well not to cross their limits. Union Minister for Non-Resident Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi had no doubt that the legislature and the judiciary must not try to cross the `Lakshman Rekha' drawn for them by the Constitution. He recalled that there had been grave situations when the two pillars were on a confrontationist course and even arrest warrants were issued against legislators. On all such occasions, it was the sagacious intervention by the leadership of the legislature and the judiciary of the time that had saved the situation, he pointed out.

Mr. Karunakaran said the appropriate thing for the legislature to do in situations where the judiciary overturned its laws was to go in for ordinances in emergent situations or for new legislative efforts. He took strong exception to those in government publicly criticising the judiciary and pointed out that though he was himself at the receiving end of several adverse judicial decisions, had never spoken against the judiciary. He received justice at the end of it all only because of the independence of the judiciary, Mr. Karunakaran said.

Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy hoped that the legislature and the judiciary would be able to function without losing their tolerance towards each other and with mutual respect. Veteran leader and former Minister K.R. Gouri was of the view that the powers of the legislature were getting whittled down and attributed this to the overdose of politics that had become characteristic of the functioning of legislatures. The situation has come to such a pass that the judiciary has begun to claim the right to review even laws included in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution, she pointed out.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Vijayakumar announced that the Government had decided to constitute a Law Reforms Commission to review, revise and integrate existing laws. Earlier, K.M. Mani (Kerala Congress-M) pointed out that 21 laws from the days when the State remained divided into Travancore, Cochin and Malabar remained to be integrated. Veliyam Bhargavan (Communist Party of India), who was one of the members of the first Kerala Assembly, called upon members of the present Assembly to look beyond their constituencies and study issues of the State as a whole.

K. Pankajakshan (Revolutionary Socialist Party), C.T. Ahamedali (Indian Union Muslim League), M.P. Veerendrakumar (Janata Dal-Secular), R. Balakrishna Pillai (KC-B), T.M. Jacob (KC-Jacob), M.V. Raghavan (Communist Marxist Party), P.C. George (KC-Secular), Ramachandran Kadannappally (Congress-S), P.M.A. Salam (Indian National League) also spoke.

The Governor felicitated members of the first Kerala Assembly R. Balakrishna Pillai (Aryanad), Veliyam Bhargavan, E. Chandrasekharan Nair, N. Ganapathy, Maleth Gopinatha Pillai, K.R. Gouri, P. Govinda Pillai, N. Neelakantan Pandarathil, A.M. Kalyanakrishnan Nair, R. Prakasam, Rosamma Punnoose and K. Sivadasan at the function. T.O. Bava, V.R. Krishna Iyer and V.K. Narayanan Kutty could not attend the function due to poor health. Former Speakers of the Assembly T.S. John, A.C. Jose, V.M. Sudheeran, Varkala Radhakrishnan, P.P. Thankachan, Therambil Ramakrishnan, and M. Vijayakumar were also felicitated. Vakkom Purushothaman could not attend the function due to ill health.

Speaker K. Radhakrishnan welcomed the gathering. Deputy Speaker Jose Baby proposed a vote of thanks.

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