Feb 25, 2024
Feb 25, 2024
There is Indian theory and Indian practice. There is Indian promise and Indian performance. There is Indian hype and Indian hypocrisy. There is awesome gap between what we plan and what we deliver. And as superb rationalists and escape artists we dwell on one and ignore the other. Thereby we salvage our disturbed conscience. This trait in India’s national character has seldom been exposed more painfully than by the recent horrendous rape crime in Delhi. After the tragedy there is unprecedented outpouring of grief and emotion, for law and justice, for reform and change. There is no dearth of demands for new laws and new plans to prevent future crimes against women. We overlook the simple truth.
|Efficiency in implementation depends upon clear demarcation of responsibility and accountability. We are clear about assigning responsibility. We are vague about assigning accountability.
The only male witness to the crime and a victim of violence himself has given to a TV channel a restrained, matter of fact and entirely credible account of what happened during that fateful event. His account exposes callousness of the public and the gross inefficiency of police and hospital authorities. Had legal provisions already in place been implemented with a modicum of efficiency the crime would never have occurred. Had public apathy been less and police efficiency more the victim might have been saved. The bottom line is that there are enough laws in place to prevent such crimes from taking place. But neither law nor procedure is respected. That is why not only rapes but all manner of crimes against men, women and children continue to torture society.
Doubtless there is room for improvement in the enactment of laws. Doubtless authorities may succeed in improving laws. But what, then? If even the best laws remain unimplemented, how will the situation change? The most glaring lesson to be drawn from the recent tragedy is that law enforcement must be drastically improved if we seek meaningful change. Many wise suggestions have been offered about how to augment and improve the police force as well as our judicial system. These are necessary long term remedies that must be undertaken. But the most urgent and compelling reform required is to ensure that even existing laws and procedures are implemented.
Efficiency in implementation depends upon clear demarcation of responsibility and accountability. We are clear about assigning responsibility. We are vague about assigning accountability. That lies at the heart of India’s crisis related to poor governance. It was recently pointed out in these columns how the Supreme Court in its judgment on the Gujarat Lokayukta case having failed to identify the President as the final authority over the Governor fell back on the dubious option of giving the High Court a right to override the decision of the Council of Ministers. Because the Governor could not be considered a sovereign entity the Supreme Court resorted to the questionable device of granting authority to the Gujarat Chief Justice to override an executive decision. Not surprisingly, opposition leader Mr. Arun Jaitley has criticized the Court’s verdict in explicit terms.
It needs to be repeated again and again that India’s governance system will never function satisfactorily until the President preserves and protects all laws as is prescribed in the Constitution.
Today the CBI works under the same authorities it might be expected to investigate and prosecute. This glaring conflict of interest can be easily addressed by making the body constitutional and directly accountable to the President. That would presuppose of course that the President has a role to play that is more than ceremonial. The President is the only check to the Union Cabinet as the Governor is to the Council of Ministers in the State. A system of checks and balance is the very foundation of democratic functioning. The President alone is elected by all the people of India through an indirect poll conducted by the elected representatives of the people. The President alone has the mandate and moral authority to act as the government’s watchdog at the centre. The Governor under his authority discharges the same responsibility in the State. The President is accountable to Parliament that has the power to impeach him if he transgresses law. That is what our system really is according to the Constitution. That is how our system must operate if we genuinely seek reform in governance.
More by : Dr. Rajinder Puri
Facts agreed - The President is elected by combined votes of Parliament and assemblies. And that the President need not worry about completion of five year term as he can only be removed through an impeachment, which needs a strong case and a lot of public debate against him.
But, will these facts and right interpretation, prevent the current batch of political class from electing a lame duck president ?
These argument resembles whining, but these are valid ones, aren't they ? Indeed, it will matter if someone like Mr. T.N. Seshan, with strong desire, determination and right skills and knowledge to explain the constitution comes. Such a person in president will rule righteously undeterred.
Did Mr. T.N. Seshan opted to fight Presidential elections in 1997 ? What kind of political support did he receive ?
Despite having done a wonderful job as CEC and having been in news for many years for good reasons, he did not receive support from political parties except from 1 or 2 regional small parties, even when the powers of the President were understood commonly as limited.
So, clarification of powers with the post of the President won't resolve all the problems of governance. However, it will certainly stop center Vs state widening gap, which will be dangerous if not stopped.
And for finding solution of a problem, first root causes need to be understood. I am just trying to figure them out...
|Dinesh, you too are making the same mistake! The PM is elected only by the Lok Sabha. The President is elected by both Houses as well as all the MLAs of all the States of the Union. Is that not a much wider mandate? The PM is always worried about retaining majority in Lok Sabha. The President does not depend upon this. He is above day to day politicking. He can act on merit without endangering his position. If the post was interpreted in this manner the candidate chosen would be of different kind. What, by the way, is your solution? Just to wring your hands and keep whining? The bottom line is: If you don't want to change the status quo, do change the text of the written Constitution which gives the President executive powers.
Quote [If this flawed perception were corrected, the candidates for the Presidency would be markedly different from what they have been up till now.] Unquote
So far, instead of the President, the Prime Minister was practical head of the country. Did this stop the parliament from electing lame duck Prime Ministers, corrupt prime ministers, visionless prime ministers ?
The nice example is the current one - MMS.
If the parliament didn't stop from electing such unworthy 'leader of the nation' then why should we imagine the same kind of parliament members would elect a worthy President ? ( especially when the power of that post is further amplified by proper explanation of the constitution).
|Shiv, You seem to be in error. It is not the ruling party that elects the President but all the MPs and MLAs of parties across the nation that do it. The ruling party merely nominates the candidate. But because of the present distorted system the very qualities sought for an appropriate candidate are flawed. Therefore parties, legislators and the public see the future President as a mere ceremonial head. If this flawed perception were corrected, the candidates for the Presidency would be markedly different from what they have been up till now.
|Your argument is sound but your solution is weak.Let us take your solution - "The President alone is elected by all the people of India through an indirect poll conducted by the elected representatives of the people." -
No Sir, the president is elected by the party which has majority.If the party in power which has majority starts serious of misrule and crime like the present UPA, how do expect a Pratiba or Pranab to act against cong(i) which has elected them in the first place.The whole system is misused because crooks have sat in power for a long time.No amount of laws will rectify the misdeeds of the crooks.Democracy is a farce and the people's only hope is irrespective of whatever the system Democracy/Single party rule whatever , a honest person with back bone comes to power.In the Indian context, it is imperative that cong(i) is kicked out , hopefully a BJP leader with honesty and cajones may be a guy like Modi takes charge of the country.If the likes of Arun Jaitley or sushma swaraj comes anywhere near power, the same cong(i) style of misrule will perpetuate.If a third front come to power, the current situation will continue.