The Lok Sabha Speaker spoke out against establishing a Commissionerate for Democracy

India does not favour the appointment of a Commissioner for Democracy, Human Rights and Rule of Law by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar said on Saturday, on the sidelines of the 58th Parliamentary Conference here.

“We are not in favour of it,” Ms. Meira Kumar said, answering a question during an interaction with the Indian media here. One of the workshops at the CPA discussed if there was need for such a Commissionerate.

“We consider that people are supreme. The principle of democracy is based on the supremacy of the people. And, people elect their representatives. There is an oversight by those representatives of the functioning of the executive. And this Parliament is also eventually accountable… to the people. So, the supremacy of the people cannot be diluted or challenged by any other authority,” she said, when asked to explain her objections. “How can we have another body sitting over the supremacy of the people,” she asked.

Ms. Kumar was here to participate in the deliberations of the CPA. She said the Indian delegation comprised 62 members. “It is always the largest delegation to take part in the CPA.”

India’s role in CPA

India’s relationship with the CPA dates back to the pre-Independence era. “In the interim government of 1946, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was in charge of Commonwealth Affairs. Since then, we are members and we have been regularly participating… We have seen the CPA evolve with the changing times. We have played a role in that also,” she said.

Asked if she was unhappy that members from Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry did not attend, she said it would be “nice” if people attended the “multilateral conferences”, where “issues of global concern… are discussed. However, I suppose they have their compulsions, which I respect,” she said.

Speaking about the relevance of the conference, Ms. Kumar said there were two bodies in the world meant for parliamentarians — one was the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which is the oldest, and the other was the CPA — and while the IPU membership was restricted to national Parliament members, the CPA was the only body in which State legislature members can also interact and share their experiences. “It is of great relevance. It is the only international body where a [Speaker of any State] can give their views,” she said.

‘Deadlock will go’

Asked about the deadlock in the Lok Sabha, Ms. Kumar said she was hopeful that it would be resolved. She said there was always a disparity between the Opposition’s demands and the extent to which the ruling party was willing to concede, but “eventually, the two sides find common ground.”

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