Sitaram Yechury to Rashtrapathi

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 24, 2014

Dear Rashtrapati Jee,

I am writing to you to express my deep concern on a matter, which on my opinion, constitutes a grave violation of the conduct of business in the Houses of Parliament, under the accepted Rules.

The President of India is the custodian of our Constitution in whom is vested “the executive power of the union” (Article 53). In discharge of this responsibility I am seeking your intervention to ensure that the established Parliament procedures are not violated undermining our Parliamentary democracy. More than anybody else, with your long experience and vast knowledge of the Rules of both houses of Parliament, I believe, that you are the most competent authority to intervene and protect the sanctity of our Constitution and Parliamentary democracy.

In the recently concluded Winter Session of Parliament, (third Session of 16th Lok Sabha) a total of 16 legislations (Bills) were taken up. An unprecedented 13 of these were passed without being referred to, thus scrutinized by the Parliamentary Standing Committees. To use a phrase that emerged during the European Enlightenment establishing modern Parliamentary democracy, this practice is the brutal exercise of the “tyranny of democracy”.

In the Rajya Sabha, Select Committees were constituted to examine three such Bills, passed by the Lok Sabha. An unprecedented number in any one session.

The Lok Sabha Rule 75(2a) states that “if the member in charge moves that the Bill be taken into consideration any member may move as an amendment that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee of the House, or a Joint Committee of the Houses with the concurrence of the Council, or be circulated for the purpose of eliciting opinion thereon by a date to be specified in the motion;”.

Such Rules are no longer being respected through the exercise of ‘brute majority’. Bills are being adopted even in the midst of a din.

May I request you to intervene and ensure that such violation of Parliamentary Procedures is not permitted. Unless otherwise specified in the Rules or under extraordinary circumstances no legislative bill should be exempt from being scrutinized thoroughly by the Parliamentary Standing Committees.

It is being widely reported in the media that the Government is seeking to take recourse to the ‘Ordinance Route’, particularly on two important Bills –raising FDI ceiling in Insurance and on coal block allocations. This is because the Government could not muster a majority in the Rajya Sabha.

A Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha scrutinized the Insurance Bill. It’s report has been tabled in the House but not yet deliberated upon. It, hence, remains the property of the House on which a decision is pending.

Until this process is completed, the issuance of an Ordinance would be a grave violation of the sanctity of Parliamentary proceedings. I am sincerely requesting you not to sanction such ordinances.

Taking recourse to such an ‘Ordinance Route’ under these circumstances would be a clear violation of our established Parliamentary Democracy.

I am sincerely requesting you to intervene in order to ‘nip in the bud’ such tendencies which may result in imposing an authoritarian manner of parliamentary functioning. This would be completely antithetical to the letter and sprit of our Constitutionally established Parliamentary Democracy.

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