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Seven former HC judges urge Prez to uphold Constitution

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New Delhi, June 3: Seven former high court judges on Monday wrote an open letter to President Droupadi Murmu urging her to follow the “established democratic precedent” and invite the largest pre-poll alliance to form the government to preempt horse trading if the 2024 general elections lead to a hung Parliament.
They also urged Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and the chief election commissioner to uphold the Constitution by ensuring a smooth transition of power, if the present ruling dispensation loses people’s mandate.
The open letter is signed by six former Madras High Court judges GM Akbar Ali, Aruna Jagadeesan, D Hariparanthaman, PR Shivakumar, CT Selvam, S Vimala and former judge of Patna High Court Anjana Prakash.
They said there was “genuine concern” that if the present ruling dispensation loses people’s mandate, the transition of power may not be smooth and there could be a constitutional crisis.
Concurring with the May 25 open statement of Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG) of former civil servants, the former judges said, “We are constrained to agree with the scenario envisaged in the above statement: ‘In the event of a hung parliament, onerous responsibilities will be placed upon the shoulders of the President of India.

“We are sure that she will follow the established democratic precedent of first inviting the pre-poll alliance that garnered the largest number of seats. Also, that she would endeavour to preempt the possibilities of horse-trading….”
It also urged the CJI and the CEC to uphold the Constitution in such an eventuality and ensure smooth transition of power.
“We, former high court judges, having no affiliation to any political party, but strongly committed to the ideals enshrined in the Constitution, and to the values of electoral democracy, write this open letter from a deep anguish at the recent and present goings-on with regard to the parliamentary elections of 2024,” the letter, issued to media on June 3, said.
“Several events over the past weeks are making for a very grim storyline; one that may possibly end in a violent conclusion. These are genuine apprehensions in the minds of the vast majority of our people. Reputed civil and human rights organisations and activists have also echoed the same apprehension,” it said.
It said the Election Commission’s refusal to disclose the exact number of votes cast in each booth of every constituency and to make form 17(C) of conduct of election rules available to the public, along with the minimal action taken against hate speech targeting minorities and opposition parties by senior leaders of the ruling party, are major concerns.
The letter said the Supreme Court, being the final authority to defend and protect the Constitution and democracy, should be ready to take “proactive action to prevent any potential catastrophe or to address any monstrous situations that may arise during counting and declaration of results.”
“We, the people of India as citizens of a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic hereby call upon the Supreme Court to ensure the presence and attendance of the top five esteemed justices of the Supreme Court even during the period of the ongoing summer vacation and be available to respond in the event of any constitutional crisis that might emerge in the present situation,” the letter said.
It said the former judges hoped that their apprehensions were wrong and the elections would end smoothly but they believed that prevention is better than cure.
“We therefore, seek in humility to remind each of the authorities and institutions charged with the integrity of the process of democratic government formation of their paramount duty to abide by and uphold the Constitution,” it added. (Agencies)

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