President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday cautioned the government against taking the “ordinance route” for normal legislations while stressing that “growing tendency” to disrupt Parliament could lead to “paralysing policy formation”.
The Narendra Modi government had opted for eight ordinances including those for raising the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) limit in the insurance sector and e-auctioning of coal mines in as many months leading to the President even seeking explanation from the government on urgency for some of these Ordinance.
The President had given his assent to the Ordinance to bring changes in the land acquisition law after three senior ministers including Arun Jaitley has explained the reasons to him.
“To meet certain exigencies and under compelling circumstances, the framers of the Constitution deemed it necessary to confer limited legislative power upon the Executive by way of promulgation of Ordinances when the legislature is not in session and circumstances justified immediate legislation,” President Mukherjee said in his new year address to higher education and research institutions on the topic “Parliament and Policy-making”.
Seeing his resistance, the government has decided not to bring any more Ordinance before the budget session, which would witness a slew of reform oriented legislations.
His caution to the government came amid talks of the government planning to convene a joint session of Parliament to pass legislations in view of the deadlock it had faced in the Rajya Sabha, where the opposition has the majority.
Mukherjee said that the passage of legislations "is not practicable because I have seen from 1952 till today only four times laws were passed by joint session".
He also referred to the supremacy of regional parties in states affecting the strength of national parties in the Rajya Sabha and said: "Therefore, their (Rajya Sabha) consent is required to avert extreme cases through the joint session, which is a Constitutional provision but it is not practicable because I have seen from 1952 till today, only four times laws were passed by Joint Session."
At the same time, the President also expressed his concern at the increasing disruptions of Parliament leading to wastage of resources and time.
“The cardinal principle of parliamentary democracy is that the majority has the mandate to rule while the opposition has the right to oppose, expose, and if the numbers permit, to depose. But, under no circumstances should there be disruption of the proceedings. A noisy minority cannot be allowed to gag a patient majority,” the President said.
In a reply to a question, the President emphasised that it was incumbent on the ruling party and opposition to sit together and find a workable solution to avoid disruptions.
He also hoped that the trend of reducing sittings of Parliament because of disruptions is reversed as he provided data on how the number of sittings have gone down in the last 15 years as compared to the first three Lok Sabhas. “…it is incumbent on the Members of the Parliament to discuss and undertake adequate scrutiny of all business transacted in the House,” he added.