The Supreme Court today reminded the lawyers of its 'lakshman rekha' (sacred line) when they fervently pleaded it to intervene to stop criminalisation of politics on the ground that the legislature was not doing enough.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, which commenced its hearing on PILs seeking barring of people facing serious criminal charges from electoral politics, referred to the concept of separation of powers among the three wings of the state -- executive, legislature and the judiciary.
"Let me correct myself, it is the 'lakshman rekha' to the extent that we declare the law and don't make the law. We cannot create the law," Justice R F Nariman, one of the judges of the bench, said.
The observation came when senior advocate Dinesh Dwivedi, appearing for NGO Public Interest Foundation, said that there were 34 per cent lawmakers with criminal background in 2014 and it was quite "impossible" that parliament will make any law to stop "criminalisation of politics".
It is this court which can make the law as there was a void and the legislature was refusing to fill that up, he said.
The bench said that it can devise means to fast track the judicial proceedings in criminal cases involving lawmakers, but it would be difficult to direct parliament and the Election Commission to certain things which fell under the domain of the legislature.
"Your submission basically is that we should safeguard the rights of all citizens. You are exhorting us to deal with criminalisation of politics.
"You want us to exhort parliament to lay down generally that such a law should exist which prevents criminality among legislators," the bench, also comprising justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, said.