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'Presidents must play constitutional role'

Veerappa Moily says the first citizen should be an arbiter between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.

india Updated: Jun 07, 2007 11:43 IST

The conduct of presidents has come under attack from Administrative Reforms Commission Chairman Veerappa Moily, who said they should not try to "imitate" the prime minister, and rather be an arbiter between legislature, executive and the judiciary.

"Unfortunately, our presidents don't realise that they have an important constitutional role to play," Moily, whose name is also doing rounds as a Presidential candidate, said.

"There is a constitutional space to be occupied but unfortunately, everybody thinks that they should have the power of the executive, judiciary and legislature," said the senior Congress leader and former Karnataka chief minister.

"Instead of discharging your constitutional role, if you are thinking that we should imitate prime minister or somebody, that is wrong," Moily said.

Fulfilling the constitutional role by the president would prevent "any discontent, frustration or encroachment upon somebody's right", he said.

Further, he said "the president should not merely give speeches", adding that he had to exercise an "important constitutional authority".

"In case of conflict between legislature, executive and the judiciary, he has to serve as the arbiter to resolve the problems," Moily said.

On the question of the presidential elections, Moily said the post was not available for "anybody to throw their hat in", and the person for the top job must emerge from national consensus.

"There is no question of anybody offering himself as a candidate. I don't think this is available for anybody to throw their hat. Nobody can become an aspirant for the Presidential post," Moily said.

Moily also denied that there was any race for the top job. "There is no such race at all. president is the highest post which has to emerge from the national consensus."

On the reports that he met Congress President Sonia Gandhi last month to present his claim, Moily denied saying "I met her but I did not put forth my claim to be the president."

The chairperson of Administrative Reforms Commission expressed hope that its reports would be implemented soon.

"I am hopeful that these recommendations will be implemented" he said, claiming that UPA government had the "political will to do it".

The Commission, which has already submitted four reports on subjects like RTI, Ethics in Governance etc to the prime minister, is due to present its report on Conflict Management and Public order "in a day or two", he said.

Talking about the recent caste conflicts in Rajasthan, he said, "of course, there is always a competitive identity politics."

Moily urged communities to go by the laid out criterion for determination of the benefits they should get, asking "if everybody chooses to take the matters on the street, then what is the point in having these constitutional mechanisms?"

On the issue of reservations, he said "now the case is before constitutional bench of the Supreme Court. It is for the court to decide whether a caste census is necessary or other methods like NSSO data, BPL data can be used."

Opposing a quick-caste census, he said "caste census does not throw up many things. In Mandal Commission, experts have suggested 24 parameters. These parameters can be assessed by scientific methods."

First Published: Jun 07, 2007 11:25 IST