UK Parliament suspension ruled unlawful
image via flickr

In an unprecedented move, the UK Parliament suspension ruled unlawful by Scottish Court, overturning a previous order that said the courts didn’t have such authority as to interfere in prime minister’s political decisions.

Chaired by Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord Garloway, the three judges embarked on a landmark judgement which at last ‘interfered’ in prime minister’s decision of suspending parliament for five weeks. The lawyers, who were representing 75 opposition MPs and Peers, argued the chief executive’s decision was illegal and in breach of constitution as it was designed to cut short parliamentary debate on Brexit.

Apparently, what could be seen as a simple case of judicial review in countries with federal structures like the United States, India or Pakistan, the British judicial review is an entirely different story. For Britain is an exceptional model of legislative supremacy, where the courts have traditionally known for their limited role with regard to any action taken in parliament.

Even this case was no different. The prime minister prorogued the parliament, a usual affair. But what made it important that his known and embraced cause of a head-on Brexit, like hitting wall with closed eyes, the PM made himself a “usual suspect” in the second time of scrutiny.

The second time, the group of parliamentarians appealed to the Inner House of the Court of Session after their earlier challenge was dismissed by Judge Lord Doherty the previous week. Lord Doherty’s decision too was not a deviation from the general principles on which the entire British system is erect. It replicated the centuries-old tradition of judiciary not presenting itself as a solution to political crisis.

Lord Doherty simply said according to the accepted norms of the country that PM had not broken the law proroguing parliament and it was for the MPs and the electorate to judge the prime minister’s action rather than the judges sitting in courts.

But the three judges in the same court thought otherwise who disagreed with the safe-playing of their colleague as it was not in the national interest. The three judges unanimously considered that they had the right to review the PM’s act of suspending parliament. Although not by traditions, the extraordinary circumstances forced the court this particular case because “it raises issues of such great constitutional importance”.

In the judges’ opinion, the PM had not only misled the Queen in proroguing the parliament but also the very act was a “tactic to frustrate Parliament”.

They said the act of proroguing the legislature at this crucial stage was aimed at preventing it from holding the executive to account with regard to its recklessness with which it was pursuing Brexit. However, the judges restrained themselves from issuing an injunction, ordering the UK government to reconvene parliament. The court only issued an official summary of its decision declaring the prorogation “null and void”.

As far as the UK-Parliament-suspension-ruled-unlawful is concerned, it could furnish as a case study for judiciary in UK. It will also serve as a precedent for the future decision of Parliament, which had until now boasted of ultimate supremacy.

But the more important aspect is yet to come: Supreme Court’s decision. For the government which obviously expressed disappointment over the Scottish Court’s decision has vowed to take the matter to the Supreme Court in London.