BANGALORE: The stage was set at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on Sunday where experts got together to discuss if there was a need to change certain democratic practices. The special seminar focused on the nuances in the practice of Presidents’ address to Parliament and Governors’ address to Legislature.
Former Justice Rama Jois, Justice Venkatachala, Member of Parliament D B Chandre Gowda, former Union minister for State Planning M V Rajashekaran and former Home minister, P G R Sindhia formed the expert panel for the discussion.
Dr M Rama Jois focused mainly on how in more than five and a half decades after the commencement of the Constitution, there has been no occasion in which the President has exercised his right to address the parliament.
“The clause 1 of Article 86 confers right on the President to address either house of the Parliament or both together. Further clause 2 of the same article, confers additional power or right on the President to send messages to either house of Parliament, with respect to a Bill then pending in Parliament or otherwise. However, there has been no occasion when this right has been exercised,” he said.
Further the panelists stressed how Article 87 makes it obligatory for the President to deliver special address to the joint session of the Parliament.
“While addressing both the houses of Parliament, the President should inform the Parliament of the causes of its summons,” he added.
The panel further discussed that immediately after the inauguration of the Joint Session, the PM should move motion of thanks to the President then and there, and it should be seconded by the leaders of the Opposition and the motion of thanks should be passed unanimously.
“This would be inconformity with the dignity of the highest office of the Union. The procedure of moving innumerable amendments in each case expressing regret to the motion of thanks to the President, which runs to several hundreds as in the present practice, should be given up having due regard to the highest office of the Union,” said Jois.
Arguing against this, D B Chandre Gowda explained how this was the time for Opposition to tear the government into pieces.
“Usually policy documents are presented in the address and policies differ from one party to another. Any issue can be discussed at the juncture. If the Opposition doesn’t bring up issues concerning them at this point, then the soul of the parliamentary debate will be lost,” said D B Chandre Gowda.
While people from the system reiterated the same, others on the panel argued that the behaviour of elected representatives is important.
“It is important that elected representatives conduct themselves well in the house. Further, the President is the mouthpiece through whom the adress is presented to the Parliament,” said P G R Sindhia.
All the members on the panel agreed that there was a need for innumerable amendments to motion of thanks expressing regret.
The discussion regarding the polices and programmes of the Ruling Party should take place in terms of Article 87 (2) of the Constitution in each of the Houses.
Discussing more amendments to the democratic system and certain practices, Justice Venkatachala summed up, “It is indeed time to revisit democratic systems and the functioning of the Constitution.”