Tuesday, December 24, 2019

India: Op-ed calling for adoption of recall in India

Here's an op-ed calling from Pankaj Sharma, a member of the Congress Party, for the adoption of the recall in India. Some interesting history on the debate on whether India should have a recall law:

There is recall law at Panchayat level in some states such as UP, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, MP, Chhatisgarh, Maharashtra and Himachal Pradesh. This law applies to municipalities and municipal corporations also in some states. But state assemblies and the lower house of Parliament are out of this charter.

In India, the concept has its roots since Vedic times when the lack of effective governance was a cause for removal of a king. The debate over recall of elected representatives has a long history in the Indian democracy; the matter was discussed in detail in the Constituent Assembly also where several members were of the opinion that the Right to Recall must accompany the Right to Elect and the voters must be provided with a remedy 'if things go wrong'. However, Dr B R Ambedkar did not accept this amendment. Some members of the Constituent Assembly argued that the 'Recall' provision would help in strengthening the democratic system, others felt that it would be improper to provide a Recall provision at the infancy of the Indian democracy. Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel expressed his opinion during this debate by saying, "If there are any stray instances or some black sheep who having lost the confidence of their constituency still want to continue to represent the constituency in the House, for some such bad instances we should not disfigure our Constituency. We should leave it as it is, to the good sense of the members concerned". 
In recent times, humanists such as MN Roy and politicians such as Jayaprakash Narayan have spoken extensively on the need to introduce right to recall in our electoral system. When Somnath Chatterjee was Lok Sabha Speaker, he also sought to install the right to recall to ensure accountability. Constitution (Amendment) Bill about Voters' right to recall elected representatives was introduced in Lok Sabha by C K Chandrappan in 1974 and Atal Bihari Vajpayee had supported this but the bill did not pass. A private member bill, The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced by BJP MP Varun Gandhi in Lok Sabha. With the increasing impulse of manipulating democracy for the benefit of certain individuals or political outfits, the urgency of having and enforcing the right to recall must be felt with all its seriousness. If the people have the power to elect their representatives, they should also have the power to dismiss them when they engage in misdeeds or fail to fulfil their duties. In 2001, Madhya Pradesh amended its Panchayat Raj Act and gave voters the right to recall their non-performing elected representatives. The 17-year-old incident of Palavika Patel, the former president of Anuppur municipality in Madhya Pradesh, India and Gray Davis, former governor of California, USA are two distinct fall-outs of participatory democracy. In 2002, voters of extremely poor Anuppur; and in 2003, voters of extremely rich California; exercised a similar constitutional right: the right to recall an elected representative for non-performance. Patel and Davis were removed from their positions.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.