It is good that the spate of ordinances that were planned have not passed muster, possibly following reservations expressed by the President. At the same time, opposition to them, by politicians, and those who disrupted Parliament continuously, is both hypocritical and anti-democratic. Many Bills of critical importance have not been passed by Parliament. If the mercy petitions of prisoners on death row have not been acted upon for years, it is not surprising that important Bills have met the same fate. Can there be any analogous relief for citizens as far as crucial Bills are concerned? It is the attitude of our politicians that is systematically strangling the parliamentary system.
As the highest constitutional functionary, the President of India has a ceremonial role of authority. But in certain cases he/she has the authority to get us out of complex situations.
In this instance, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee has shown the supreme importance of ethics, in abiding by the values of the presidential post. By suggesting a reconsideration of the ordinance to amend the RPA Act, he has created a level playing field for all political parties. New schemes and laws with an eye on the coming elections play a major role in possibly changing voters’ perspectives. The government must remember that people go rather by its history of five years in deciding whether to vote for it.
This refers to the article, “When Parliament fails to act” (March 3). The writers have made compelling arguments in favour of the promulgation of ordinances. But we need to think about the precedent such recourse to an alternative route will set. The UPA government was unable to bring its coalition partners as well as the Opposition to the table. This governance deficit should not be overcome through a shortcut by promulgating ordinances. Even the Constitution suggests the use of an ordinance as an extraordinary measure to be used in times of urgency rather than “a recourse open to people.”
The smooth functioning of Parliament is a distant dream and democratic values are at an all-time low. But to promulgate ordinances is not the solution. It is an extraordinary power vested with the executive (President). If Parliament — that represents the will and aspirations of the people — is not convinced or has not passed any law, how can an ordinance work? The nuances and merits of a planned legislation need to be debated. The credibility of, and our faith in, Parliament as a supreme lawmaking body must not eroded.
Article 123 provides for emergency situations when a Bill needs to be passed but when Parliament is not in session. Unfortunately, this provision has time and time again been misused with no regard for the spirit of the provision. This time it looks like the session was prorogued so as to facilitate the promulgation of ordinances. The problem with ordinance promulgation is that there is no way to tell the motive behind it. If Parliament merely failed to legislate a debated Bill then it points to the dysfunctional nature of Parliament, which is what needs to be corrected. Is ordinance- promulgation the only solution? Further, we have seen enough laws being kept alive for periodic repromulgation. Interestingly enough, while the government has jumped at the first opportunity in the past to promulgate ordinances on critical matters such as the civil nuclear deal, it stalls and stumbles over domestic issues such as grievance redress. Also to be noted is the widening gap between the interests of the people and those of parliamentarians who are supposed to represent them.
When the intention of the pending anti-corruption Bill is to cleanse our polity and ensure speedy and efficient service delivery, it is appropriate for the President to promulgate an ordinance on this and other urgent pending bills. Let us not forget that disruptions came in the way of the debate.
P.J.S. Sudhakar Naik,
Frequent disruptions in Parliament have forced the government to try and take the ordinance route, which is meant to be used only in exceptional circumstances. Its use for certain pieces of legislation that lack a consensus approach, make them dicey because of the uncertainty over what the next government might do. Our legislators should place the needs of the people before their own electoral calculations and be more responsive. Whoever forms the next government, the Opposition should learn from the past and provide constructive criticism based on issues, and not create prejudice against the ruling party using any means.