Mar 03, 2024
Mar 03, 2024
The debate in parliament yesterday on the Lokpal Bill was fascinating. It revealed how legal eagles spar and fence over every word, comma and nuance of the Constitution to construct what they consider a proper law. Mr. Kapil Sibal and Mrs. Sushma Swaraj were at their eloquent best. The whole nation with bated breath watches how the great Lokpal debate proceeds in parliament and on the street outside. Politicians and editors argue whether there should be this kind of Lokpal Bill or that kind of Lokpal Bill.
Alas, apart from this ignorant scribe nobody argues whether there should be any Lokpal Bill at all. Do we lack laws to curb corruption? Do we lack institutions created to curb corruption? No, we lack the will to implement the laws and utilize the institutions created to curb corruption.
Our current problem is not related to law. It is related to implementing law. The challenge is to ensure that what the law tells us we actually follow. If for the sake of argument a consensus on the Lokpal Bill does finally emerge and a law is framed, what then? Will we implement it? I draw attention to the framers of the Constitution who were no less well versed in law than either Mr. Sibal or Mrs. Swaraj. Consider what after prolonged debates they finally framed and what happened to the laws they thus framed.
Article 79 of the Constitution states:
“There shall be a Parliament for the Union which shall consist of the President and two Houses to be known respectively as the Council of States and the House of the People”. Thereby the President is part of Parliament.
Article 53 (1):
“The executive power of the Union shall be vested in the President and shall be exercised by him either directly or through officers subordinate to him in accordance with this Constitution.”
“The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. (2) The Ministers shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.”
“It shall be the duty of the Prime Minister –
(a) to communicate to the President all decisions of the Council of Ministers relating to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislature;
(b) to furnish such information related to the administration of the affairs of the Union and proposals for legislation as the President may6 call for; and
(c) if the President so requires, to submit for the consideration of the Council of Ministers any matter on which a decision has been taken by a Minister but which has not been considered by the Council.”
Article 86 (1):
“The President may address either House of Parliament or both Houses of Parliament assembled together, and for that purpose require the attendance of members. (2) The President may send messages to either House of Parliament, whether with respect to a Bill then pending in Parliament or otherwise, and a House to which any message is so9 sent shall with all convenient dispatch consider any matter required by the message to be taken into consideration.”
This is how the original Constitution was written. Subsequent amendments such as the 42nd Amendment were introduced to dilute the powers of the President. Nevertheless even after such amendments the substantial powers of the President as outlined remain. Contrast these laws with the actual role of the President who must dutifully read out what is prepared by the Council of Ministers, and stand like a dummy every Republic Day to salute the passing out parade. Is the problem confronting the nation therefore one of inadequate law or of inadequate implementation? For all the fiercely competing protagonists of the Lokpal Bill, I rest my case.
More by : Dr. Rajinder Puri
Have you considered that you( and a most of the scribes) assume that whatever the Prime minister or any minister advises the President then it becomes the advise of the Council of Minister?
You for one should know that.
As long as the Council of Minster unanimously decides something till then it is not binding on the President. Even one dissenting minister of junior rank makes the decision of rest of the ministers/prime minister as non-binding on the President.
Neither have we,as citizens, ever asked the President to invoke article 78c to make differing ministers in coalition govt make unanimous decisions. Instead these ministers choose to simply withdraw support from the government and cause unstability. Why don't we/ministers make the President invoke article 78c to make for a stable government in this coalition era?
Unanimity is the price of power that ministers have to pay in a parliamentary system.
As long as the President is not being asked by a unanimous council of ministers(which means not just ministers of cabinet rank only) till then he is not bound. And therefore the debate of Presidential powers being ceremonial or not is just a theoretical/academic debate.
I know of no instance in history of India that the entire council of ministers whenever called to assemble unanimously agreed on the same course of action.
1. The chairman of Rajyasabha is Vice President of India.
2. Two decades before, I stdied in high school text book about power, role and responsibilities of the Presedent of India. That text too did not mention clearly, instead it stated the then current status Vs what it was meant by some analysts on the lines mentioned in this article.
But, I am sure even if the President of India are given the real power originally intended in constitution, it will not solve current problem of corruption.
Because, like CVC, CEC etc, the President also is appointed BY CHOICE of the ruling alliance.
That is how Mr. Sheshan could not become President, that is how Mr. Kalam got to the post and that is how current president came to office.
So definitely, there need to be some more changes than merely restoring the powers of the President of India.
We can be assured that current lot of parliamentarians will not do it.
So what else can be done ?
An independent Lokpal is (was) one option - so that big fishes can be caught and thrown out to jail.
Only after the system is relatively cleansed of highly influential corrupt people, one can hope to get relatively genuine representatives to take over and do the required changes. (we were close to such an state in 1996-98, but it was missed in absence of required additional force).
|It is not necessary to act;one must be seen to act. In all his wisdom, Anna has succeded in convincing a voluble,but,clueless middle class to believe that Lokpal is the Magic Solution to end ALL repeat ALL corruption
that affects the day to day lives of them. It is now imperative on the part of ALL Politicians to SHOW that they are for Lokpal. Hence, the charade in the Parliament!
Seshan showed what an Election commissioner could do. Will any future President do a Seshan?