POLITICIANS CLEAR ORDINANCE TO SHIELD TAINTED OF THEIR LOT: WHY DEMOCRACY IN INDIA IS IN IMMINENT DANGER OF DISINTEGRATION?

September 2013

July this year, in two landmark judgments, the Supreme Court had ruled that jailed persons could not contest elections and a convicted politician was to be immediately disqualified. It sent shockwaves in the political fraternity, for future of many politicians, many big names including existing members of legislative bodies, was in imminent danger. But they had a clear ray of hope, a certain way out of the abyss, in their political brethrens.

In August, the Rajya Sabha, the upper House of the Indian Parliament, unanimously passed a proposed amendment in the Representation of the People Act 1951 (RP) to negate a landmark Supreme Court order that could have brought fundamental (and desperately required) improvements in the conduct of the political class. But, somehow, the amendment act could not be passed in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament due to the sustained ‘political’ pandemonium, over this or that issue.

It had to come down to the Lok Sabha. It was supposed to be discussed by the enlightened wisdom of the political parties on the floor of the Lok Sabha. That was, once again, supposed to be a decorative sham, as it was their collective wisdom only that had it passed unanimously in the Rajya Sabha. Even the political furor over the ordinance route now is nothing more than a sham. Had it not been the case, the amendment bill could not have passed the Rajya Sabha hurdle.

The Winter Session of the Parliament (coming November-December) was supposed to be the time for the final execution in this episode of subversion of democratic values in India’s democratic evolution.

But, suddenly, within three weeks of the Monsoon session of the Parliament, the Congress led UPA government yesterday cleared an ordinance to shield the convicted of the political lot.

And it should not be surprising at all. What is surprising is it could not be passed in the Monsoon Session after all the political bonhomie. After all, all politicians are similar under the skin they had shown once again by ensuring the unanimous passage of the amendment act in the Rajya Sabha.

But its timing worries like most of the acts of the Indian political theatre. It is ominous for the democratic spirit of the country. The ‘fact’, that it was not unexpected or it is not surprising, makes its even more menacing.

Reports say the decision in a Fodder Scam case where Lalu Yadav is an accused is just one week away. Only last week, a court convicted Congress Rajya Sabha MP Rashid Masood in a corruption and sentencing is due.

Whether reasons like these played any role pushing the UPA government to bring an ordinance so early may be debatable but the intent is always clear – it was to undermine the guiding spirit of the Indian Constitution envisioned by its framers.

And if it is timed to work for reasons as reported, it shows how irresponsible the existing political class has become to the democratic values.

This frequent audacity, the recurrent brazenness of the political class to change or co-opt anything that is coming in its way is threatening the democratic structure of social weaving in the country.

The practice was always there but it has grown at a deafening pace in recent times. The ordinance to shield the convicted politicians is just yet another democratic casualty.

*“Why India is in imminent danger of disintegration?’ is a regular column on my blogging platforms to take a periodic look (say a weekly or a fortnightly or a monthly round-up of events depending on the factors in play) on political developments that are dangerous to the democratic health of the country and contribute to the process of social disintegration of the nation..”
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/why-democracy-in-india-is-in-imminent-danger-of-disintegration/

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE (AMENDMENT AND VALIDATION) BILL, 2013: WHY DEMOCRACY IN INDIA IS IN IMMINENT DANGER OF DISINTEGRATION?

The Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013: Rajya Sabha, the upper House of the Indian Parliament, on August 27, unanimously passed a proposed amendment in the Representation of the People Act 1951 (RP) to negate a landmark Supreme Court order that could have brought fundamental (and desperately required) improvements in the conduct of the political class.

The Supreme Court decision united the whole political class in an unholy alliance to thwart the reform measure as they viewed it as something affecting the political career of many of their types, scores of the tainted politicians of the day.

Now, once approved from the Lok Sabha, the amended RP Act will be effective from July 10, 2013 and will negate the Supreme Court order passed on July 10, 2013 that said the people lodged in jails and convicted politicians could not contest elections. The Supreme Court, as per the RP Act, very logically had ruled that those who could not vote because of being in jails could not contest the polls either.

Let’s see what the sub-section (2) of the section (62) of the Representation of the People Act 1951 states:

62. Right to Vote. (2)No person shall vote at an election in any constituency if he is subject to any of the disqualifications referred to in section 16 of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 (43 of 1950). (From the Law Ministry website)

Section 16 of the Representation of the People Act 1950: (From the website of the PRS Legislative Research)

16. Disqualifications for registration in an electoral roll — (1) A person shall be disqualified for registration in an electoral roll if he—
(a) is not a citizen of India; or
(b) is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court; or
(c) is for the time being disqualified from voting under the provisions of any law relating to corrupt* * *practices and other offences in connection with elections

(2) The name of any person who becomes so disqualified after registration shall forthwith be struck off the electoral roll in which it is included:

[Provided that the name of any person struck off the electoral roll of a constituency by reason of a disqualification under clause (c) of sub-section (1) shall forthwith be re-instated in that roll if such disqualification is, during the period such roll is in force, removed under any law authorising such removal.]

With an ever increasing number of corrupt and criminal elements in Indian politics the authoritarian mentality in politicians saw it big threat coming, and in their usual style, amended the concerned section of the RP Act (sub-section (2) of section 62) on which the Supreme Court had based its decision. They did so even while they had already filed review petition in the apex court to review the decision.

The proposed amendment seeks to ‘subvert’ the provision of this section that disqualifies those in jails based on certain categories of unlawful behavior.

According to a Time of India report, “The Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013, which was passed by the House, seeks to add a proviso to sub-section (2) of section 62 of the RP Act to state that a person cannot cease to be a voter while in detention as h/his right is only temporarily suspended.”

It further said: “One of the amendments states that as the name of the jailed person continues to be on the electoral rolls, s/he also continues to be an elector and can file nomination for an election.”

Though, today, the Supreme Court rejected the review petition to review its decision on convicted politicians (while accepting the same for politicians lodged in jails), it cannot be the said the political authoritarianism would not act to subvert it further.

Now, once the amendment is approved (some Constitutional or legal expert can tell it better, but if we go by the possibility), anyone (read politicians or their affiliates) in jail would be able to contest elections, the way they have been doing, making mockery of the Constitution, manipulating the democracy and humiliating the primary stakeholders of this Republic, the voters.

What is worrying is the frequent audacity, the recurrent brazenness of the political class to change or co-opt anything that is coming in its way. The practice was always there but it has grown at a deafening pace in recent times. The Representation of the People Act is just yet another democratic casualty while our politicians enjoy a highly subsidized lifestyle.

Their opulence humiliates the poverty of India.

Such moves are effectively blocking the possibilities to reform the Indian democracy.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

*“Why India is in imminent danger of disintegration?’ is a regular column on my blogging platforms to take a periodic look (say a weekly or a fortnightly or a monthly round-up of events depending on the factors in play) on political developments that are dangerous to the democratic health of the country and contribute to the process of social disintegration of the nation..”
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/why-democracy-in-india-is-in-imminent-danger-of-disintegration/

POLITICIANS VS THE REST OF ALL: WHY DEMOCRACY IN INDIA IS IN IMMINENT DANGER OF DISINTEGRATION?

The Indian Constitution, when adopted, mirrored the soul of Indian Democracy on a healthy balance of ‘a process of checks and balances’ that its different wings exercise on each-other, notably the Indian Parliament, the Judiciary and the autonomous constitutional entities like the Election Commission (EC) or the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) or the Central Information Commission (CIC).

There are many other institutions and functional establishments including the law and order apparatus but most of them either can’t keep the politicians in check or have been efficiently co-opted by the political class.

And there are really very few institutions that still matter as the forces ‘still able’ to take on the political class and have the lethal edge by their Constitutional guarantee and the positive public perception about them and so are in the hit-list of the politicians.

Here, when we talk of the institutions, we need to keep in mind that it is about the people running those institutions and how they have undermined the sanctity and authority of the institutions provided by the Constitution and so of the Constitution itself.

The situation in the country, at the moment, is more or less ‘politicians Vs the rest of all’ where on one side are the institutions controlled, manipulated and co-opted by the politicians and on the opposing side are the few institutions where not all but still many people refuse to be co-opted by the political class.

The different functional wings of the Indian Democracy have no visible lines of demarcation. On one side, there is corruption and their promoters – the corrupt politicians and the bureaucrats.

On the other side are the institutions that are seen as ‘still’ viable option to get some Constitutional remedy, to the problems that owe their genesis in the systemic failure of the System called Indian Administration.

While the all-pervasive corruption has eaten into the credibility of almost every functional wing of Indian Democracy, its scale of imminence to cause a chronic and systemic problem varies.

As the majority of the politicians of the day have become synonymous with corruption, elitism and authoritarianism, the Indian Parliament has seen the maximum credibility erosion, and by the political developments in the country, the rot, at the moment, looks irreversible.

The rot in Indian Judiciary is also deep, but the activism and alertness of higher courts and Supreme Court has become a big relief point for the people oppressed from the political tyranny and from the chronic corruption in the lower courts.

On a more positive note, Constitutional bodies like the Election Commission, the Comptroller and the Auditor General or the Central Information Commission have performed exceedingly well in an atmosphere of political gloom and sociopolitical anarchy and so are being targeted increasingly by the politicians.

If the Indian Democracy is still surviving somehow it is because of the institutions like the higher courts or the EC or the CAG or the CIC.

And politicians look all set, hands-in-glove, to challenge the good work being done by the good people in these institutions.

Subverting the Democracy by negating the important decisions taken by the Supreme Court or the Constitutional bodies has been an old practice but in recent times, it has grown on an unprecedented scale.

In the last few months, the nation has seen the ugly display of corrupt politics when the politicians across the party-lines came together to make Constitutional amendments and legal changes to nullify the Supreme Court orders on reforms in ‘Representation of the People Act’ regulating the conduct of elections, to invalidate CIC’s ruling on keeping political parties under the Right to Information Act (RTI) or the demands to scuttle the EC’s efforts to regulate the electoral ecology of the country for a free and transparent way.

And the political brazenness says it’s just the beginning.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

*“Why India is in imminent danger of disintegration?’ is a regular column on my blogging platforms to take a periodic look (say a weekly or a fortnightly or a monthly round-up of events depending on the factors in play) on political developments that are dangerous to the democratic health of the country and contribute to the process of social disintegration of the nation..”
https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/why-democracy-in-india-is-in-imminent-danger-of-disintegration/

DEMOCRATIC MUSINGS: TWO TOP POLITICIANS FROM INDIA AND US SPEAKING OVER HOTLINE

Two top politicians from India and US were communicating over hotline. During the course of conversation, the formal line of dialogue spontaneously gave way to the informal (can read personal) elements of deliberations as they were in comfort of the snoop-free zone and could take all the liberty to discuss whatever they wanted to.

The formal elements of conversation are of no interests (and so of no value) here. Out of the informal chatter over hotline, the following pointers of the conversation stand apart:

The US counterpart: It has been a chaotic time politically after the high of Osama’s successful manhunt two years ago. Economy is still unstable. Budgetary managements are giving nightmares. And security concerns add to that. The people act silly when they don’t understand the dynamics of the national security requirements. Thankfully, that fellow, the so-called WikiLeaks activist, the intelligence leaker Bradley Manning has been found guilty with a 35-year prison term. Though yet another so-called activist-but-fugitive-by-US-standards Edward Snowden remains a headache, the Manning outcome has come as a big relief, a sort of closure.

After all, unlike in your country where you guys have successfully manipulated and crushed dissenting voices from the masses, something that we cannot do here even if we try hard, and so, such favourable decisions (for us) from an independent institution like the US judiciary is an endorsement.

But I must congratulate you folks for manipulating and managing a democracy of over a billion people so well to keep the masses under control in your over-populated country.

The Indian counterpart: Thanks dear younger colleague and my superior counterpart, though we, the politicians of India, don’t consider anyone superior to us, but it is your powerful position in the global geopolitics that makes us comfortable in addressing you so.

I take your observation as compliment. Yes, it can be said, ‘we, the Indian politicians’, can teach the politicians of the world how to manipulate and manage the democracy for our own benefits, the political class. In fact, I can outline the salient features of our hard-work that the world can seek and emulate. Here they come. Please be attentive to the ‘sanctity and clarity’ of the hotline.

First one: We can efficiently teach politicians from any part of the world the ‘art of mismanaging the democracy’ to manage it in order to manipulate it.

Second one: Our achievement on this front stands apart as we are the world’s second most populous nation with over 1200 million people that makes our task of ‘mismanaging and manipulating’ the founding and governing principles of democracy a huge achievement. We inspire the seekers of our ‘art’ by our sheer ability to scale such a high.

Third one: We can be the good learning examples for the monarchies and kingdoms in trouble (and not in trouble) across the world.

We are the ‘kings’ here, in a constitutionally run democracy. We have become unstoppable now. Our flow is unrestricted. With time, we have been able to develop varying functional versions of policies, for the political class and for the stupid masses.

We have successfully endeavored to interpret, manipulate and subvert the policy matters to keep our political camaraderie flourishing, to make our political class an extended form of a monarchy in glowing health, where we keep the reigns among us only by a mutual cooperation and staged variation.

Fourth one: We can also be the learning reference point on techniques of ‘tough approach of open confrontation’. There comes a point in emergency cases (and there come so many) where you need to break the inhibitions of the staged democratic agreeability.

Such incidents have been aplenty in recent times where we removed the mask and charged upfront when we needed to tell the masses that we, the political class, were totally different from the masses, when we needed to tell them that we were a privileged, superior and elite class, and the law of the land that applied (to the masses) didn’t mean anything for us.

And we have been, yet again, successful in propagating this ballooning exercise to spread the message and so in manipulating and crushing the voices of dissent that were there.

The conversation over hotline continues..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/