OPINION

Stretching the limits



This refers to the editorial "Stretching the limits" (Aug. 18). By sending the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Bill back to Parliament for reconsideration, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam merely wanted to know whether there is a broader rationale to the proposed law than protecting the individual interests of those who hold dual posts today.

K. Chandrasekar,
Chennai

Was not the President entitled to some time (over a week in this case), especially when the Constitution stipulates no time limit, to give assent to a bill that was returned to him in its original form despite his well-reasoned objections?

S. Krishnakumar,
Linden Hill, New York

The President's act of sending the bill back to Parliament was a legitimate exercise of power, not an overreach. Similarly, there is no clear constitutional deadline within which the President has to give his assent to the bill when passed for the second time in its original form. Article 111 only says the President "shall not withhold assent" but does not specify any time limit.

Srinivasan Venkataraman,
Petaluma, California

In the editorial's words, the President has "the right to be consulted, the right to encourage and the right to warn." Was not President Kalam exercising these rights when he sent the office of profit bill to Parliament for reconsideration? The law is blatant in promoting the personal interests of legislators.

B. Arun,
Bangalore

The editorial argues that "it is difficult to think of any case where a largely ceremonial President can legitimately challenge the wisdom of a democratically elected legislature." Wisdom is not the prerogative of legislators alone. Many flawed decisions have been taken by legislators in the past. At the same time, the fact that he occupies a ceremonial seat of power need not be an excuse for stripping the President of his constitutional powers.

R.K. Murthy,
Coimbatore

The designation of the President's office as largely ceremonial raises some important questions. Can the country afford the luxury of a rubber stamp President? As one elected by the legislatures, does he not have some popular mandate as against a dynastic descendant?

V. Krishnan,
Chennai

What if our MPs decide to give themselves astronomical salaries? Any bill that seeks to enhance their benefits is passed unanimously and the common man has no way of preventing it. The general public, I am sure, is definitely not in favour of MPs holding offices of profit.

Brig. M.N. Seshadri (retd.),
Chennai

If the President is indeed a rubberstamp, why not abolish the post? It can save crores of rupees.

Vaikom Madhu,
Kottayam, Kerala

I am sure millions of Indians find the insistence of our MPs on passing the bill abhorrent. India is not just about UPA and NDA; it is much more than that.

Girdhar Rathi,
New Delhi

Parliament's decision to pass the bill in its original form was nothing but a bid to pressure the President to fall in line. This proves beyond doubt that when it comes to sharing the spoils, politicians are all the same whether they belong to the Congress, the BJP or the Left.

P.S. Sivasundaram,
Hyderabad

`For the MPs, by the MPs' seems to be the slogan of our elected representatives. The casual manner in which the bill was passed the second time was appalling. MPs belong to the most privileged class of society that decides its own salary, allowances, perks and pension. They are privileged to circumvent the rules to suit their interests. They are further privileged to earn full salary and allowances even if they stall parliamentary proceedings.

M.K. Abdul Majeed,
Thiruvananthapuram

Office of profit is a provision we inherited with the parliamentary system and belongs to the days of honesty. It was meant to insulate the legislator from indirect executive influence or pressure. Times have vastly changed. These are days of lobbying, with the media in active service. Even without holding an office of profit, a legislator is exposed to influence or pressure, executive or other, in invisible ways. It is, therefore, time we had a re-look at the provision itself.

Srinivasa Rangaswami,
Chennai



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