|Distinguished lawyer (and my old college friend) Kapil Sibal is reported to have expressed the opinion that state governments are constitutionally obliged to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act, an opinion reportedly seconded by another distinguished lawyer, Salman Khurshid. Being an economist and not a lawyer, I feel hesitant to contest the views of these legal luminaries. But I am convinced that they cannot be right, for what they are saying violates a basic principle of jurisprudence the Nuremberg principle so named because of the trial at which it was enunciated.|
|At the Nuremberg trial, where Nazi officials accused of various war crimes were being tried, the defence plea was that the accused were merely carrying out orders. This argument was rejected, and sentences were handed down on the principle that a person, no matter what the orders were, has to take responsibility for his or her actions. If an order was "illegal" or violated universally-accepted norms of basic humanity (such as not killing innocent people), then a person could not escape culpability simply by claiming that he or she was carrying out an order.|
|The Nuremberg principle was not enunciated just to punish war criminals of a bygone era. It forms a cornerstone of any democratic jurisprudence, including our own. In its absence, nobody would ever be held culpable for any atrocity: A would say that he or she was acting under orders from B, B would likewise shift the blame to C and so on, until the ultimate source of authority is traced, if at all, to someone who may well be dead by then, as Hitler was at the time of the Nuremberg trial.|
|The Nuremberg principle has a positive and a normative aspect. The positive aspect ensures that nobody escapes culpability for doing something illegal or inhuman. The normative aspect is that everyone must examine the legal and moral justifiability of any course of action that he or she is asked to follow. This is essential in a democracy if the exercise of power without responsibility, by merely pretending that the source of power lies elsewhere, is to be avoided. In fact we get exercised about corruption, and rightly so, but the exercise of "power without responsibility" is a massive form of "corruption" in the deepest sense. This is what the Nuremberg principle seeks to prevent.|
|What is true of persons is also true of other entities, like state governments in the present case. If they consider an order to be against the law, or humanity, or, in the present instance, the Constitution, then they cannot be obliged to act upon it unquestioningly, even if the order has the sanction of Parliament. They would have to first test the constitutionality of the order in the Supreme Court (SC), as the government of Kerala has done with the CAA.|
C) Neither lawyer, nor Economist
D) A legal practitioner well versed in Economics
Correct Answer: B
Solution :Rationale: (b) In the first paragraph, the author makes clear that he is an economist, not a lawyer who can contest the views of legal experts.
You need to login to perform this action.
You will be redirected in 3 sec