Chief Justice Ramana said, "I want to say to lawyers - do not confine yourselves to legal service"
Chief Justice of India NV Ramana criticised the functioning of parliament in strong terms today, focussing on the lack of debates on the laws. Comparing it with earlier times when both houses of parliament were "full of lawyers", he asked the legal fraternity to also contribute their time towards public service.
Calling the current situation "a sorry state of affairs", he said there is "No proper debate" in the house.
"(There is) no clarity of laws. We do not know what the purpose of the law is. It is a loss to the public. This is when lawyers and intellectuals are not in the Houses," he added.
"If we look at our freedom fighters, many of them were also in the legal fraternity. The first members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were filled with lawyers' community," Chief Justice Ramana said at an event to mark the Independence Day at the Supreme Court.
"Unfortunate what you see now in the Houses... Debates back then in the Houses were very constructive. I saw the debates over financial bills and very constructive points were made. Laws were discussed and deliberated. One had a clear picture of the legislative part of the law," he said.
In a series of tweets, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju blamed the opposition for the lack of debates and discussions in parliament.
"I can understand the deep concern of the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramanna about the lack of quality debate in Parliament. When I first entered Parliament, I learnt a lot from the seniors. Now, young MPs are being told to stop Parliament debate!," tweeted the Union Minister.
While the monsoon session of parliament started amid furore over the Pegasus spyware scam, the government had decided to push through several bills despite the disruptions. The opposition, which had been demanding a discussion on the allegations of spyware use on politicians, journalists and others, pointed out that the bills were passed without any discussion.
Trinamool Congress's Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien compared it to "making papri chaat", pointing out that the government was allotting only seven minutes to a bill on an average. The remark had become another flashpoint between the government and the opposition.
"No bills passed in first week of monsoon session... Then Modi-Shah bulldozed 22 bills in 8 days at an average time of UNDER 10 MINUTES per Bill... Modiji, challenge these new numbers as I enjoy another plate of PAPRI CHAAT!" Mr O'Brien's tweet read.
The government accused the opposition of "maligning the dignity of parliament" and conspiring to stop its functioning. The opposition parties accused the government of crushing their voice in parliament, "murdering" democracy and bringing "outsiders" as marshals to beat up MPs.
Yesterday, President Ram Nath Kovind alluded to the situation in parliament, saying "Our parliament is the temple of our democracy which provides us highest forum where we discuss, debate and decide issues for the well-being of our people".
As the country celebrated its 75th Independence Day, Chief Justice Ramana also said It was a time to "review" the policies and achievements.
"75 years is not a small period in a country's history. When we used to go to school they used to give us piece of jaggery and a small flag. Even though today we get so much we are not happy. Our saturation levels have reached the bottom," he said.
"I want to say to lawyers - do not confine yourselves to legal service. Do public service also. Contribute your knowledge and wisdom to this country also," the Chief Justice added.