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Implications of Britain top court’s ruling on PM Boris Johnson prorogation of Parliament (Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper II; IOBR)

What is the ruling of the court?
Eleven judges of the highest court in the United Kingdom have delivered an extraordinary unanimous judgment, striking down as unlawful a recommendation by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Queen Elizabeth to suspend Parliament for five weeks ahead of Britain’s scheduled October 31 exit from the European Union.

The Justices, sitting on the largest permissible Bench of the 12-judge Supreme Court, gave presiding officers of both Houses of Parliament the freedom to reconvene the Houses immediately.

The court ruled on “whether the advice given by the Prime Minister to Her Majesty the Queen on 27 or 28 August, that Parliament should be prorogued from a date between 9 and 12 September until 14 October, was lawful and the legal consequences if it was not”. It said the PM’s action was unlawful and the prorogation of Parliament was “void and of no effect”.

Courts do have the authority to intervene in ‘political’ matters
The issue was essentially whether Johnson had the right to prorogue Parliament, and whether Britain’s courts had the power to stop him. The government argued that the courts had no business jumping in because the decision to prorogue Parliament lay “in the territory of political judgment, not legal standards”.

But the court said it was “firmly of the opinion” that the question of the “lawfulness of the Prime Minister’s advice to Her Majesty is justiciable”.

The prorogation of Parliament was not business as usual
The court asked, according to the summary judgment, whether the prorogation had “the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions without reasonable justification”. It ruled that “this was not a normal prorogation”.

Source: The Indian Express



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