ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Shoddy Judgment

Judicial Imperilment of Federalism

In holding that state governments could not pass laws to allow for direct appeals to the Supreme Court, the constitution bench of the Supreme Court in Rajendra Diwan v Pradeep Kumar Ranibala in 2019 was concerned less about upholding constitutional provisions and more by a disagreement over policy. In as much as states allowing for appeals directly to the Supreme Court is bad policy, it is not necessarily unconstitutional and is entirely within the framework of federalism under India’s Constitution.

Aconstitution bench of the Supreme Court recently struck down Section 13(2) of the Chhattisgarh Rent Control Act, 2011 (CRCA) on the grounds that it was beyond the power of the Chhattisgarh state legislative assembly. The unanimous judgment in Rajendra Diwan v Pradeep Kumar Ranibala (2019) authored by Justice Indira Banerjee holds that the Constitution gives only the union Parliament the power to make laws on the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and a state law, such as the CRCA, could not allow for an appeal from the Rent Control Tribunal, set up under the law, to the Supreme Court.

Given the (entirely justified) focus on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) in the last few weeks, this is a major development that has gone rather unnoticed and uncommented on. While the issue concerned may relate only to rent control laws in Chhattisgarh and may not impact too many people, it is a troubling development in the Supreme Court’s approach to upholding the federal structure of the Constitution that should give cause for concern.

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Updated On : 23rd Dec, 2019
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