New Delhi, May 26, 2023: The Supreme Court dismissed a plea on Friday that sought the Lok Sabha secretariat to arrange for the inauguration of the new Parliament building by President Droupadi Murmu, who is considered the "first citizen of India and the head of the institution." The Supreme Court bench expressed its lack of interest in entertaining such petitions, stating an understanding of the motives behind them. The bench further mentioned that the petitioner should be grateful for not having to pay costs.
This petition by a lawyer from the apex court came amidst a significant controversy surrounding the planned inauguration of the new Parliament building by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28. In response, around 20 opposition parties have decided to boycott the ceremony, protesting the perceived sidelining of the President.
Advocate Jaya Sukin, in the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filing, argued that the statements issued by the Lok Sabha secretariat on May 18 and the invitation sent by the Secretary-General of Lok Sabha regarding the inauguration of the new Parliament building are unconstitutional. The PIL noted that the President, as the first citizen of India and the head of the parliamentary institution, should be given the opportunity to inaugurate the building. It sought a direction from the Supreme Court to enable President Murmu to carry out the inauguration.
The petitioner claimed that the Union of India was "humiliating" the President by not inviting her to the inauguration ceremony. Referring to Article 79 of the Constitution, which states that Parliament consists of the President, Rajya Sabha (Council of States), and Lok Sabha (House of People), the plea argued that the respondents were not adhering to the Indian Constitution.
The PIL emphasized that the President is an integral part of the parliamentary democracy and called for the interference of the apex court to protect the democracy of the nation. Additionally, it cited Article 87, which states that the President must address both Houses at the beginning of every Parliamentary session, and claimed that the respondents (Lok Sabha secretariat and Union of India) were attempting to "humiliate" the President by not inviting her to the inauguration of the new Parliament building.
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla recently met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and invited him to inaugurate the new building. In 2020, Modi had laid the foundation stone for the building, an event that was largely boycotted by most opposition parties.