Monday, September 30, 2013
The conviction of Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal President and former Bihar Chief Minister, by a CBI court “gives some hope that the corrupt will be punished at long last,” commented Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today.
In a media statement, Dr. JP, however, pointed out that it took 20 years to finish the trial and appeals might take decades.
A CBI court on September 30 convicted Mr. Lalu Prasad and 44 others in the fodder scam dating back to the 1990’s.
Dr. JP said, “If 10 top politicians and officials are convicted in every State and their properties confiscated, we can reduce corruption.”
Dr. JP said the Lalu Prasad case exposes the political crisis in India. A product of the anti-corruption struggle and the Emergency, Mr. Lalu Prasad was the darling of media and masses in the 1990’s. Yet, he became a part of what is wrong. As Lalu had realized that ethical conduct and political power were unrelated to each other, he became a cynical practitioner of all unseemly methods in power politics – caste mobilization, sectarianism, patronage, corruption, polarization, short-term populism and criminalization.
“Mr. Lalu Prasad’s rise and fall are a symbol of a generation’s failure. We wasted three decades by delaying political & economic reform.
“In today’s India, honesty has become incompatible with power in politics. Good people have to quit politics or compromise on values.
“We need a system that makes honest, competent, committed persons electable. Right now they are a liability. Ethical and rational politicians should be seen as assets in a sensible system. We need the proportional representation system to change politics, and allow the entry and success of clean, rational and competent citizens in politics.
“Proportional representation at the top end, local empowerment at the bottom, and accountability everywhere – these are needed to cleanse our political system.
“Political reform, guaranteed service delivery, rule of law, opportunity for all and economic growth – these should be our mantras in the coming years. If we achieve them, our democracy will be safe, our youth will have a bright future, and our economy will prosper”.
(To know more about Dr. JP’s views on latest developments, please click www.twitter.com/jp_loksatta)
Friday, September 27, 2013
The Lok Satta today described the Supreme Court judgment providing for casting a negative vote in elections as a small but significant and positive step in improving politics.
In a media statement, Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan recalled that the Lok Satta movement had suggested the reform to the Election Commission of India 15 years ago. Since the Election Commission could not change the rules on its own, it referred the matter to the Government of India. The Government has not acted on the suggestion.
The Supreme Court has now asked the Election Commission to provide ‘None of the Above (NOTA)’ button on EVMs and option on ballot papers. The apex court said the right to vote and the right to say NOTA are both part of the basic right of voters.
Dr. JP recalled that the NOTA option will not be a game changer going by past experience. Hardy one or two percent of voters exercised such an option when Lok Satta campaigned hard to mobilize Negative vote. In Andhra Pradesh, fewer than 1% exercised negative vote option when the State Election Commission tried it in local elections in the past.
Yet, Dr. JP said, the reform will serve the purpose of pressurizing political parties to shun fielding undesirable and discredited candidates. It will also motivate a section of voters who do not go to the polling booth now on the pretext that all the candidates in the race are detestable. In such cases voters can be encouraged to exercise the option of recording their dissent by negative vote.
The NOTA reform will also come in handy when voters feel none of the political parties or candidates in the fray is mirroring their feelings in time of emotional polarization or surcharged atmosphere. The voters, especially in a local election, can express their wrath against all candidates if a long-pending problem is not addressed to their satisfaction. On occasion it could also be a weapon to mobilize sectarian vote based on caste or ethnicity in support of highly parochial demands.
There will be a real transformation in politics only when all political parties field candidates with credibility, integrity, competence and good track record, Dr. JP added. “Political crisis of the nation can only be resolved by political means and citizens’ participation, not by judiciary or Election Commission alone.”
Thursday, September 26, 2013
శిక్ష పడ్డ ఎమ్మెల్యేలు, ఎంపీలను రక్షించేందుకు తెస్తున్న ఆర్డినెన్స్ ను తిరస్కరించాలని రాష్ట్రపతికి జేపీ లేఖ
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today urged President Pranab Mukherjee to prevent promulgation of an Ordinance to exempt convicted legislators from disqualification until the appeal is disposed of.
In a letter to the President, Dr. JP said, “As the elder statesman of the country with unmatched experience and erudition, you are best qualified to protect our democratic institutions, dignity of Parliament and State Legislatures, and rule of law. As the President of the Republic, defender of the Constitution, and conscience keeper of the nation, you have the moral stature and Constitutional authority to intervene and prevent promulgation of the proposed Ordinance.”
The Ordinance is a blatantly unconstitutional, morally wrong and cynical move that will weaken our democracy, said Dr. JP.
The Ordinance seeks to overturn the Supreme Court judgment of July 10 holding Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act us ultra vires.
Dr. JP said, “A careful reading of Articles 101(3)(a) and 190(3)(a) of the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s judgment makes it unambiguously clear that any disqualification that applies to a person for being elected applies equally to an incumbent legislator for continuing as a member.”
The proposed Ordinance also violates Article 14 of the Constitution which says that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law.
Dr. JP told the President that the Union Cabinet has erred in recommending promulgation of the Ordinance exempting incumbent legislators convicted of a crime under Section 8 of the RP Act, 1951 from disqualification that would apply to any person contesting for elective office.
“This Ordinance is bound to be struck down by the Supreme Court. Apart from the unconstitutionality of the proposed Ordinance, it is morally reprehensible and democratically indefensible. It is absurd to claim that an incumbent legislator convicted of a serious a crime can continue to be a lawmaker. Such a brazen act of cynicism will further undermine people’s already eroding faith in Constitutionalism, rule of law and our democratic institutions. The nation looks up to you to come to the defense of Constitution in this difficult hour.”
Dr. JP urged the President to invoke his powers under Article 123, read with Articles 74 and 111, and return the Ordinance to the Council of Ministers for reconsideration considering that the Supreme Court had already held such a law unconstitutional, and subsequently rejected a review petition filed by the Government.
If the Council of Ministers resubmits the Ordinance for his assent, Dr. JP requested the President to refer it to the Supreme Court for its opinion under Article 143 of the Constitution. Under Article 143, “if at any time it appears to the President that a question of law or fact has arisen, or is likely to arise, he may refer the question to the Supreme Court.”
26th September 2013
Shri Pranab Mukherjee
The President of India
New Delhi - 110001
Esteemed Rashtrapati Shri Pranab Mukherjee ji,
1. The reported Union Cabinet decision to recommend promulgation of an Ordinance to exempt convicted legislators from disqualification until the appeal is disposed of is a blatantly unconstitutional, morally wrong, cynical move that will weaken our democracy.
2. The Supreme Court in its July 10 verdict in WPs No 490 and 231 of 2005 held unequivocally that “Parliament had no power to enact sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act and accordingly subsection (4) of Section 8 of the Act is ultra vires the Constitution” (Para 22). The Court, in this judgment, relied on the wording and intent of Articles 102(1)(e) and 191(1)(e) of the Constitution. The Court in Para 20 held: “Looking at the affirmative terms of Articles 102(1)(e) and 191(1)(e) of the Constitution, we hold that Parliament has been vested with the powers to make law laying down the same disqualifications for (a) person to be chosen as a member of Parliament or a State Legislature and for a sitting member of a House of Parliament or a House of a State Legislature”. The Court further held: “the provisions of Articles, 101(3)(a) and 190(3)(a) of the Constitution expressly prohibit Parliament to defer the date from which the disqualification will come into effect in case of a sitting member of Parliament or a State Legislature. Parliament, therefore, has exceeded its powers conferred by the Constitution in enacting sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act and accordingly sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act is ultra vires the Constitution.”
3. Article 102(1)(e) states as follows: “As person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being a member of either House Parliament ………………………………… e) if he is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.”
Article 101(3)(a) states as follows: “If a member of either House of Parliament becomes subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in clause (1) or clause (2) of Article 102, his seat shall thereupon become vacant.”
Identical provisions exist in respect of State Legislatures in Articles 191(1)(e) and 190(3)(a) of the Constitution.
4. A careful reading of these Constitutional provisions and the Supreme Court’s judgment makes it unambiguously clear that any disqualification that applies to a person for being elected applies equally to an incumbent legislator for continuing as a member. It is a settled legal principle that the Supreme Court has both the power and duty of judicial review of a legislation or executive decision under Articles 32, 141 and 142.
5. In addition, Article 14 of the Fundamental Rights chapter of the Constitution explicitly guarantees, “the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law, or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” Section 8 (4) of RP Act, 1951 or its variant in the form of the Ordinance for which the Union Government now is reportedly seeking the President’s assent is clearly violative of Article 14, in addition to being violative of Articles 190, 191, 101 and 102 of the Constitution.
6. Under these circumstances, the Union Cabinet has erred egregiously in recommending to the President the promulgation of the Ordinance exempting incumbent legislators convicted of a crime under Section 8 of the RP Act, 1951 from disqualification that would apply to any person contesting for elective office. This Ordinance is bound to be struck down by the Supreme Court. Apart from the un-Constitutionality of the proposed Ordinance, it is morally reprehensible and democratically indefensible. It is absurd to claim that an incumbent legislator convicted of a serious a crime can continue to be a lawmaker. Such a brazen act of cynicism will further undermine people’s already eroding faith in Constitutionalism, rule of law and our democratic institutions. The nation looks up to you to come to the defense of Constitution in this difficult hour.
7. As the elder statesman of the country with unmatched experience and erudition, you are best qualified to protect our democratic institutions, dignity of Parliament and State Legislatures, and rule of law. As the President of the Republic, defender of the Constitution, and conscience keeper of the nation, you have the moral stature and Constitutional authority to intervene and prevent promulgation of the proposed Ordinance.
8. I therefore urge you to invoke your powers Under Article 123, read with Articles 74 and 111, and return the Ordinance for the reconsideration of the Council of Ministers. Considering that the Supreme Court had already held such a law unconstitutional, and subsequently rejected a review petition filed by the Government on the subject, this is also a fit case for a Presidential reference of the matter to the Supreme Court under Article 143. Under Article 143, “if at any time it appears to the President that a question of law or fact has arisen, or is likely to arise, which is of such a nature and of such public importance that it is expedient to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court upon it, he may refer the question to that court for consideration and the Court may, after such hearing as it thinks fit, report to the President its opinion thereon.” This is a clear case of great public importance, and a fundamental question of constitutional validity has arisen. Therefore, if the Council of Ministers resubmits the Ordinance for your assent, I urge you to refer it to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.
9. Esteemed Rashtrapatiji, the nation now looks up to you for guidance and wise counsel. An elected government has only the duty to govern under the Constitution, but cannot arrogate to itself the power to undermine the Constitution and democratic norms. I appeal to you to act in this case decisively and in the best interests of the nation in order to uphold the Constitution, public morality and democratic institutions.
With warm personal regards
Lok Satta Party
The UPA government’s decision to promulgate an ordinance exempting convicted legislators from disqualification is a grotesque and unacceptable decision.
That we have to advance arguments against such an obviously absurd stand is an indication of the precipitous decline in standards of political behavior in the country. Here, we are not talking of people against whom FIRs are registered, or charges are pending. We are talking of protecting those who are convicted of a crime in a court of law! Given the influence and power prominent politicians and elected legislators wield, it is rare that FIRs are registered against them. As the police force is largely under the thumb of the legislators, such cases are usually buried without any investigation. Only a small number of FIRs registered against influential persons even result in the completion of investigation and framing of charges by the court. It takes years for the courts to try a criminal case. After all this, only six percent of criminal cases end in conviction, unless the accused confesses to the crime.
Now major political parties want even such a rare conviction to be disregarded, and are fighting against the disqualification of convicted legislators. The UPA government, which has acquired notoriety for its ineffectiveness and policy paralysis, is now flexing its muscles when it comes to protecting a convicted criminal’s right to continue in elective office. This is nothing but a declaration of war against the people. The government and political parties have lost the capacity to articulate the aspirations of the people who they represent; they are oblivious to their constitutional role and the rationale for their existence. The dictum appears to be: we are in power, we will do whatever benefits and pleases us, as long as we can get away with it.
The argument that a convicted person should have the right to represent people is ludicrous, if not so tragic. People have a right to credible representation. A legislator is elected to make laws. If such a legislator himself, is not merely a law breaker, but has also been convicted in a court after proving guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a notoriously permissive, slow and tortuous criminal justice system, then it is the height of absurdity to have him continue as a law maker.
See the irony of it. If the government’s efforts succeed, a sitting MLA or MP convicted of murder or rape in a future “Nirbhaya case” will continue to be in public office after conviction. All that he needs to do is file appeal after appeal. In a system where it takes years to dispose of appeals, the legislator can never be unseated during his term. That parties and politicians have the temerity to claim such a right for convicted legislators is something only a fertile Kafkaesque imagination can concoct.
One seemingly reasonable but bogus argument advanced is that politicians convicted of crimes related to political agitations may be ‘unfairly’ disqualified. This silly argument is a throwback to the colonial era when violation of law, and obstructive, sometimes violent methods of agitation were condoned and glorified as part of the struggle against an oppressive, foreign ruler. But once we have constitutional rights and the power to anoint or dethrone a government through vote, we cannot resort to forcible bandhs, rasta rokos, rail rokos, arson, stone-pelting and violence. The constitution guarantees us liberty to express peaceful, non-obstructive dissent. To claim the divine right to resort to violence as part of a political agitation is a recipe for anarchy and economic chaos. How can parties then argue that conviction in a crime related to a political agitation should elevate a person to the status of a hero? In any case, there is no known case of conviction of an incumbent legislator for offences related to a bandh or rasta roko in a political agitation.
This ill-advised ordinance has further undermined the credibility of our political system. Already large segments of urban youth, middle classes and women are seething with anger and contempt for politics. They have developed deep distaste bordering on hatred for parties, politicians and government leaders. The government and parties have acted not only immorally, but have chosen a singularly inappropriate issue to defy public opinion. This further erodes the legitimacy of politics and legislatures.
The whole episode stinks of the failure of leadership and a complete collapse of sane elements in the government. After all this, in any case the Supreme Court will quash the ordinance. The court’s 10 July verdict holding Section 8 (4) of the RP Act, 1951 is unassailable. The court gave its verdict largely on technical grounds, relying on the constitutional provisions relating to the Parliament’s power to make a law on disqualification. The court held that Articles 101 & 102, and 190 & 191 do not give power to Parliament to provide different criteria for disqualification of those who are elected legislators, compared to the rest of the citizens. Now this ordinance is bound to be challenged before the court. The court will also have to rely on Article 14 which guarantees equality before the law and equal protection of the laws to all citizens.
The criticism that courts are sometimes usurping executive and legislative powers, and are overreaching is a legitimate one. But in this case, the court is perfectly right in quashing Section 8 (4) of the RP Act. In the days to come, the court will have to hold this ordinance as unconstitutional. This will be a well-deserved rebuke for the UPA government and the political class, whose failure of judgment and leadership is as pronounced as their perfidy and arrogance. The net result will be a further decline in the authority and legitimacy of the Parliament, government and political parties. Whoever advised them to promulgate the ordinance has done a great disservice to them. With friends like that, the government and parties do not need enemies.
The Lok Satta Party today condemned YSRCP leaders Konatala Ramakrishna and D. A. Somayajulu for distorting Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan’s remarks on Mr. Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy.
Lok Satta Party State Vice President D. V. V. S. Varma pointed out in a media statement that Dr. JP did not make any adverse comments on Mr. Jagan being granted bail. Dr. JP wanted Mr. Jagan’s trial be fast tracked since it attracted national attention like the Nirbhaya case. In fact, Dr. JP wanted all corruption cases involving VIPs like Madhu Koda, Sukhram, Jayalalitha, Mayavati and Lalu Prasad Yadav be tried by fast-track special courts and people’s faith in rule of law restored.
Mr. Varma also refuted the charge that Dr. JP maintained silence on corruption charges against TDP President and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. He recalled that when Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy and Mr. Chandrababu Naidu traded charges of corruption against each other in the Assembly in 2007, it was Dr. JP who demanded constitution of a special court to go into the charges. Dr. JP reiterated the demand for constitution of special courts and appointment of independent prosecutors on April 1, 2008 during a special discussion in the Assembly on disproportionate assets of legislators. In 2009, Dr. JP drafted a Bill providing for the institution of a strong Lokayukta and circulated it (on June 10) among all party leaders.
Mr. Varma said making baseless allegations to besmirch the image of Dr. JP, who has been waging a relentless fight against corruption in public life, is reprehensible.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Legislators convicted of rape and murder in Nirbhaya-type cases in future will have the right to represent people if the Government amends the law to enable convicted persons to continue in office, said Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today.
“There cannot be anything more shameful and undemocratic than such a law,” said Dr. JP referring to the union cabinet decision to amend the Representation of the People Act through an ordinance.
The ordinance is meant to overrule the Supreme Court judgment under which lawmakers convicted of crimes with punishment of two or more years face immediate disqualification.
In a media statement, Dr. JP said that the Supreme Court judgment striking down Section 8 (4) of the RP Act is mature, wise and constitutionally unassailable. It is absurd to argue that a person convicted of a serious offence in a trial before an independent court of law should continue to remain an MLA or MP until an appeal against conviction is disposed of.
Dr. JP pointed out that in India only a small number of cases are registered against the influential including elected legislators. Among them, very few cases go to the stage of framing of charges. Even when charges are framed, only six percent of cases end up in conviction, unless the accused make a confession. The process takes years and in some cases more than a decade.
“That the Government and all major political parties are conspiring to enable even the few convicted legislators to continue in office betrays their cynicism, moral bankruptcy and total unaccountability.”
Dr. JP said the argument that politicians convicted of crimes related to a political agitation should be protected is equally untenable. In any democracy, resort to violence while expressing dissent cannot be condoned. In any case, there is no known case of a legislator being convicted for minor offences related to political agitations in contemporary India.
“If the Government persists in the dangerous course of promulgating an ordinance it will be quashed by the judiciary. The Government and political parties will become the laughing stock and objects of popular hatred,” Dr. JP warned.
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today demanded constitution of special courts to go into corruption cases against key persons in Governments both in the State and at the Center and award of deterrent punishment to the guilty.
Addressing a media conference on grant of bail to Mr. Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy, son of former Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy and President of YSR Congress, in the disproportionate assets case, Dr. JP said that no motives can be attributed to those concerned with the grant of bail in the absence of any evidence. There is no point in keeping an accused in jail without bail for an indefinite period unless there is the risk of the accused influencing witnesses.
“There comes a defining moment in a nation’s history when a policy like zero tolerance for corruption can be eloquently demonstrated by convicting a dozen prominent persons facing serious corruption charges and confiscating their properties will send the right signal to the country”.
Dr. JP said that competent special prosecutors should be appointed and judges should hear cases on a day to day basis to ensure swift justice. A law also should be enacted to facilitate attachment of properties of corrupt politicians and officials. The need of the hour is restoring people’s confidence in institutions.
Dr. JP recalled that the Lok Satta had drafted a Bill to eradicate corruption and circulated it among all people who matter at the national and State levels. He had suggested grant of autonomy and adequate resources to the CBI and ACBs, constitution of special courts, appointment of independent prosecutors, institution of a powerful Lokpal and Lokayuktas, swift and deterrent punishment of the guilty and confiscation of properties of the corrupt.
If ten big fish guilty of corruption in every State are jailed for a long term and all their properties confiscated, corruption can be mitigated to a large extent, said Dr. JP.
Corruption cases against VIPs like Sukhram. Madhu Koda, Mayavati, Jayalalitha, A. M. Raja and Lalu Prasad Yadav have not been disposed of for years. As a result, both politicians and officials accused of amassing hundreds or thousands of crores of rupees go about without fear of any retribution.
In contrast, the corrupt in countries like the US are awarded swift punishment. The Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich lost his job and property and went to jail for 14 years for simply seeking a donation by cheque for his campaign committee in return for nominating a person as a Senator in the place vacated by President Barrack Obama. A doctor couple of Indian origin Arun and Kiran Sharma, in the U. S. was jailed for 15 years and made to part with property worth 42 million US dollars for indulging in medical fraud. Top officials of Enron Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were jailed for 24 years and their auditing company, Arthur Anderson, liquidated for indulging in irregularities. In Britain, 120 MPs had to quit politics for submitting false travel bills. In South Korea, a former President Roh Moo Hyun, committed suicide out of a feeling of guilt and shame when reports of corruption involving him surfaced.
In India, however, Governments themselves shield the corrupt. The CBI has not been granted permission to investigate corruption cases involving many top politicians and officials. It has just less than 3000 personnel to investigate thousands of cases all over the country whereas the FBI in the US has 60000 personnel.
Dr. JP said that the cases against Mr. Jaganmohan Reddy as also others accused of corruption should be tried like the Nirbhaya case. (Four of the accused found guilty of indulging in rape and murder of Nirbhaya in New Delhi were sentenced to death within six months of the crime).
Monday, September 23, 2013
The Lok Satta Party today reiterated its stand that projects proposed under the Information Technology Investment Region (ITIR) be dispersed over three or four important centers in the three regions of the State instead of being confined to Hyderabad.
State Lok Satta Party President Katari Srinivasa Rao said in a media statement that his party has in fact welcomed the sanction of the ITIR to Hyderabad. It is opposed to locating all the projects under the ITIR in Hyderabad since such a policy will merely aggravate regional imbalances.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao was reacting to TRS President K. Chandrasekhara Rao’s allegation that Lok Satta national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan opposed sanction of the ITIR to Hyderabad because of narrow considerations.
He said that since the proposed ITIR is to be developed over 25 years entailing an investment of Rs.2.19 lakh crore, the requisite infrastructure can be created in centers other than Hyderabad also.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao pointed out that agitations have been rocking the State for the last few years because people in different regions feel that the fruits of development have not reached them. Concentration of political, administrative and economic power in Hyderabad has resulted in uneven economic development and unrest among people.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao said wisdom lies in learning from past mistakes and added that the time has come for decentralization of not merely political power but also industrial projects.
He added the Lok Satta Party is prepared for a debate on the importance of decentralization for balanced development of the State.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, the founding President of Lok Satta Party in an exclusive interview shares his views with Firstpost on the various structural drawbacks prevalent in the current Indian electoral systems.
Shining Path: At the outset, what are your views on the First-past-the-post [FPTP] System? Could you highlight some of its main drawbacks?
Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan: An electoral system should be judged in context. FPTP is working quite well in the US and UK. The purposes of an electoral system are: attract the most competent, committed, public spirited citizens into politics; allow the best of them to acquire power through ethical and rational means; offer the voters a clear choice in terms of agenda and leadership; obtain the people’s mandate, and once in power, set out to deliver what has been promised. These purposes are by and large well served in the UK, though the system is FPTP, and is disproportional and skewed.
In the context of India, FPTP led to dependence on marginal vote for power in a largely poor and illiterate country with woefully bad service delivery and highly centralized government. As a result, vote buying and corruption have become rampant; the kind of people who are best suited are no longer electable through ethical means, and the people who are elected are increasingly unfit to govern, or have been so compromised in their quest for power that they are incapable of delivering on their promises; easy resort to short-term freebies at the cost of real and long-term public good has become ubiquitous; polarizing society by provoking primordial loyalties of caste, religion, and region have become the staple of elections; and despite many incumbents being punished by voters for failing to deliver, there is only a periodic change of players without any significant improvement in outcomes.
FPTP also makes it excruciatingly difficult to bring in correctives like local government empowerment and strengthening rule of law, because the legislators elected in FPTP have great stakes in perpetuating status quo by controlling the police and emasculating local governments.
SP: Can the FPTP System be tweaked to overcome some of the drawbacks? Are there any examples of such tweaking from across the globe?
Dr. JPN: Some ideas like a run-off poll to ensure a majority vote for winning, partial list system combined with constituency-based FPTP election, direct election of the executive, compulsory voting and recall of elected representatives have been floated by many people.
Compulsory voting will certainly draw the urban young and middle class voters to the polls, and is welcome. Recall at local government level will improve things, but can complicate matters at state and national level by converting the legislator into the executive even more than now, and by allowing a free reign to primordial loyalties.
Direct election of the executive may help, but it can lead to legislative paralysis, and in any case is fiercely resisted by large sections in a nation of unmatched diversity and entrenched caste system. Partial list system will only marginally help, because the distortions of vote buying, freebies and polarization based on caste, religion and region will not be checked. At best, it will give parties greater flexibility to get a few leaders of their choice elected, without altering the nature of the power game. Run-off polls will only create an arithmetic majority as the two top vote getters will have to compete for a run-off poll. It does not fundamentally alter the dynamics of power.
SP: At the recently held lecture-discussion at The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, you made a case for the Proportional Representation [PR] System. Could you spell out how it addresses some of the drawbacks of the FPTP System? Also, could the “50% + 1” Preferential Voting System be a viable alternative – or does the PR System serve a completely different objective from a PV System?
Dr. JPN: In PR system, a party will get its legislators elected in proportion to the vote it gets in a whole state. There will be multi member constituencies. In each such constituency, there will be 7-10 seats, and the candidates of each party will be declared in advance in order of seniority. There will be a reasonable threshold requirement of, say 5-10% of the vote in the state, for a party to be eligible to get seats, so that small, fringe groups and caste-based parties will have no advantage.
Once electoral success is based on the share of the vote, it is no longer a winner-take-all system in each constituency. Marginal vote will not be a matter of life or death for parties / candidates. Therefore, the incentive to buy the votes and spend vast sums illegitimately disappears. A party that panders to only a caste or group to win in a constituency will find that many more voters are alienated across the state by such polarization. Parties / leaders who advocate long-term poverty reduction and economic growth, and reject short term freebies will be able to make their case and achieve electoral success without fear of being marginalized as in case of FPTP.
50% +1 voting system will artificially ensure majority mandate. When only two top vote getters are in the fray in the runoff poll, one of them will get 50% +1 vote. This is no real consensus. Nor are vote buying, and freebies culture curbed. If anything, both will be aggravated. Perhaps polarization on the basis of caste, religion and region will reduce. That is necessary. But the fatal flaws of FPTP in our conditions will not be curbed.
Preferential Voting as in Australia has many merits. In such a system, the voter is asked to give his/her preferences to all the contesting candidates. If the first preference candidate is not elected, the vote will be transferred to the second preference candidate; and if he too is not elected, then to the third candidate, and so on. This is a highly refined, but cumbersome and complicated system in a largely illiterate country where most voters cannot even read the name of the candidate, let alone make an informed choice. Therefore while AV / PV system has merits, it is not suitable for us.
SP: While arguing that the present electoral system itself needed change, you made two specific observations that appear controversial. And I quote:
1) Parties desperate to capture marginal votes have led to the conversion of fringe issues into mainstream issues. He [Dr. JPN] cited the Telangana issue in Andhra Pradesh and the faceoff between the OBC Gujjars and Meenas in Rajasthan as recent examples of that disturbing new trend in Indian politics. Is Telangana a fringe issue?
2) Since the 1980s parties have started indulging in selective populist measures and freebies. Hence the spate of freebies such as mid-day meal scheme, subsidized or free grain, and televisions and mixer-grinders, he [Dr. JPN] pointed out.
Is there no distinction between welfare measures such as mid-day meal scheme and populist measures such as distribution of TV sets etc? Also, does the timing of a measure not define if it is a freebie or not?
Dr. JPN: Telangana was a fringe issue in 2000. It became a mainstream issue by the end of the decade, since major parties embraced it in pursuit of the marginal vote. The evidence in the form of votes for TRS before 2004, and its performance in alliance in 2004 and 2009 compared to its alliance partners is compelling and conclusive.
Similarly, BJP embraced ST status for Gujjars for electoral purposes, and the damage done on account of it is well-documented. There are many such local instances of provoking regional, religious or caste sentiments for gaining marginal in pursuit of power.
In a poor country, there must be social security net for the poor to give them the basic amenities for survival. But TVs, grinders, gold chains etc cannot qualify as welfare measures – they are bribes to voters. Free and quality education, skill promotion and healthcare must be government’s priorities. But if short-term consumption subsidies dominate public expenditure at the cost of education and skills, and without building infrastructure and creating jobs, then the poor are hurt more, and society stagnates. In FPTP, in a poor country, it is very difficult for a party to oppose reckless, competitive populism, even when it ensures perpetuation of poverty. All parties know that education, infrastructure and jobs creation are the keys to ending poverty. But FPTP makes it very difficult to pursue these goals. The instant unproductive freebies have great electoral appeal in a poor society in FPTP.
SP: Are there any examples from across the globe to support the hypothesis that PR could be a viable alternative to FPTP for a country like India – I would especially like to understand this in context of the electoral landscape in India wherein we already have a multitude of political parties. Moreover, how does one factor in the reality that PR may come across as too complicated a system for many voters?
Dr. JPN: Most nations of the world, except former British colonies, have PR system. Even among English speaking nations, Australia has Alternative Voting system; New Zealand has PR system; US has presidential system with FPTP model; and even in UK, regional parliaments and European Parliament are elected on PR model. London Mayor is directly elected. FPTP is a relic of colonial past in English-speaking countries.
Regarding multiple parties, FPTP did not lead to consolidation of parties in India. Since caste is deep-rooted, and one caste or the other tends to dominate in a constituency or sub-region, many parties have emerged and succeeded in elections. Therefore there is no ground to fear that PR will lead to fragmentation. In fact, with reasonable state-level threshold requirements of 5-10% vote for representation, there will be consolidation, not fragmentation. In PR with thresholds, no more than 3 or 4 parties will be viable in a major state. More important, national parties will be viable all over the country, and their foot print will increase, leading to greater cohesion and consolidation in a well-designed PR system.
PR can be very simple. All that voters need to do is vote for a party of their choice – no more, no less. Even now, most voters vote for a party. In PR, they can make informed choices based on the agenda, and list of candidates on offer by the party in a multi-member constituency. The only difference is, in PR, they can vote for the party they trust most, because they know that every vote counts in PR, and their vote is not wasted.
Now, most voters do not vote for the best candidate or party; they vote for the “second worst” party to defeat what they regard as “the worst” party. This is because “good” candidates and parties are often unelectable in FPTP.
SP: Can PR increase voter turnout and reduce “tactical voting” [whereby voters are forced to overlook their preferred candidate/party and instead cast their vote in favor of a winnable candidate/party]? How so?
Dr. JPN: PR will enable voters to vote for the best choice, not the second worst choice to prevent the “worst” in their estimate from being elected. PR will eliminate fear of “wasted” vote, and tactical voting will be unnecessary. All that the voter will look for is whether the party of her choice will reach the threshold (5 or 10% as the law may prescribe) of voting in the state. This is much lower than the constituency threshold for a party (often 40% or more) to be elected.
Evidence also shows that in PR system, voting is increased by 10-15%.This is because there is a better choice, and there is no despair as in FPTP (choice limited between tweedledum and tweedledee). This will bring more and more people into electoral process. Also the best and brightest who mostly disappeared from the electoral scene can now contest and be elected through honest means in PR.
SP: There appears to be widespread and increasing disenchantment with politics and politicians – can a move to PR also help in cleaning up the electoral landscape somewhat? Or should this malaise be addressed only through legislative and judicial action – even though recent events around the proposed RTI amendments as well as the controversy around RPA 8 do not inspire much confidence?
Dr. JPN: Certainly PR will make clean and competent candidates electable. In FPTP, such public-spirited candidates are a liability, as they are seen to be sure losers. Also dependence on criminals will be unnecessary. Now criminals bring money power, local network loyal to them, and caste power to elections – all of which give them a decisive edge. In PR, criminals will bring odium and will be seen as liabilities.
Also, in FPTP, control over police is critical to perpetuate local hegemony, so that chances of winning in the constituency are maximized. In PR, such compulsion will no longer be there, and rule of law will gain ground. Other reforms including rule of law, accountability and decentralization are necessary. But PR will be a huge step forward.
SP: What are the drawbacks of the PR System?
Dr. JPN: There are two potential risks. First is in a pure PR system without any safeguards, there can be political fragmentation. But Lok Satta is firmly supporting reasonable a threshold in each state – say 5-10% vote. This threshold will prevent fragmentation.
Second, party bosses may be reckless in nominating their cronies and may sell the seats. Even now in FPTP this is happening. In PR, ideally, there should be internal democracy and primary elections for nominating candidate. Even if that does not materialize, party bosses in PR will have to be far more democratic. Or else, credible and influential leaders can leave the party and form a viable party with like-minded persons, since they can aspire for 5-10% vote.
In FPTP, such a challenge to leaders is not possible, as a party of credible and honest leaders is not likely to win any seats even if it gets 10-15% vote.
SP: Do you think the media can play a more constructive role in terms of improving voter awareness? For instance, can some of drawbacks of FPTP be addressed by creating a more aware and responsible citizenry?
Dr. JPN: Absolutely. The only antidote to bad politics is more politics and better politics. Media has a crucial role in promoting citizenship, and encouraging constructive political engagement to make the system better. There is needless cynicism and despair today, coupled with reckless anti-political rhetoric. Media can promote reasoned public debate, and help create conditions for systemic reform
SP: Thank you for your time, Dr. JPN. On behalf of Firstpost and its readers, I wish you good luck. Any final thoughts you may want to share on this topic?
Dr. JPN: We have done well as a democracy. But in designing a system of representation, we preferred familiarity and continuity, and failed to create the conditions required to make our democracy function better. The world over, democracies had matured and improved as enlightened citizens worked hard for reform. We can easily achieve the changes we need for a better democracy.
The major parties, citizens, media – all of us have stakes in a better system of representation. We need to minimize risks and maximize gains. I am confident we will achieve the reforms needed over the next decade.
Courtesy: First Post
Friday, September 20, 2013
While welcoming the sanction of an Information Technology Investment Region to Hyderabad, the Lok Satta Party today cautioned against repeating the past mistake of concentrating all investments in Hyderabad city.
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan suggested that the projects proposed under the Investment Region be spread over three or four major centers of the three regions of the State keeping in mind regional imbalances, economic inequalities and political unrest.
The sanction of the Rs.2.19-lakh crore Investment Region by the Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on September 20 will give a boost to Andhra Pradesh’s economy which in the recent past had suffered because of political uncertainty, said Dr. JP.
Dr. JP recalled that although the Union Government had in the past sanctioned two National Investment and Manufacturing Zones and a Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemicals Investment Region for Andhra Pradesh little progress has been made in their implementation. Grand announcements with a lot of fanfare have ended up in dashing the hopes of the young, unemployed in the State.
Pointing out that as many as 12 lakh students are graduating from colleges and universities in the State every year, Dr. JP said a massive effort has to be mounted to promote manufacturing and create jobs. It calls for formulation of comprehensive strategy and its immediate implementation.
Ultimately, employment creation and investments are a function of political stability and far-sighted leadership. Perpetual political unrest and law and order problems, mounting corruption in every facet of national life and decaying infrastructure especially in the power sector deter investments and job creation. All these problems have to be addressed on a war footing, Dr. JP added.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Even minor issues get blown into major crises because of leadership failures, said Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today.
Addressing a gathering after unveiling the national flag at the party headquarters to mark Hyderabad Liberation Day, Dr. JP recalled that leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel could integrate 562 provinces in the Indian Union peacefully within15 months. In contrast, today’s leadership has failed to address problems between people speaking the same language. Leaders in the post-Independence era facilitated linguistic reorganization of States even as countries like Canada, Belgium and Sri Lanka were wracked by conflicts among people speaking different languages.
Dr. JP pointed out that unlike leaders of the bygone era who worked for nation building and promoting harmony, today’s leaders are engaged in promoting their families and reaping electoral advantage by inciting animosities among people. A Lal Bahadur Shastri could persuade well-to-do people to fast for a day in a week and go to the succor of the hungry when the country faced a food crisis. In contrast, there is no leader today who can persuade people to shed their infatuation with gold at a time the country faced a current account deficit of 80 billion US dollars. Today’s leaders do not bother about addressing the current account deficit and improving the economy by facilitating export of food grains and promoting pulses and oil seeds production.
Dr. JP said that ritualistic celebration of days like August 15 and September 17 without imbibing the spirit of service, national outlook and dedication of leaders like Sardar Patel, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru and Moulana Azad will not help resolve today’s problems. The country today needs leaders who can harmonize conflicting interests, resolve problems amicably, promote economic development and inspire people to make sacrifices for a better future for their children.
Dr. JP hoped that celebration of September 17 as Hyderabad Liberation Day will inspire crisis-ridden Telugu speaking people to resolve their problems amicably.
Lok Satta Party leaders D. V. V. S. Varma, Bandaru Ramamohan Rao, Mrs. N. Saroja Devi, Eeda Chennayya, Mrs. K. Geeta Murthy, Dosapati Ramu were among those who took part in the event.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today demanded that a Joint Parliamentary Committee or Government committee be appointed to find an amicable solution to the crisis plaguing Andhra Pradesh in the wake of the Delhi decision to bifurcate the State.
Addressing a media conference, Dr. JP said that the Center cannot remain a mute spectator when hatred and ill will among people are dividing the nation.
He also demanded that the State Assembly be convened immediately so that elected people’s representatives can discuss the issue in a cool and collected manner and strive to work out a comprehensive and amicable solution.
Dr. JP appealed to all creative people like writers, actors and directors to use their creativity to promote unity and amity among Telugu speaking people by sparing their time and forgoing income, if necessary. Whether the State remains intact or is divided, unity among Telugu people should not suffer, he added.
Dr. JP explained that he had postponed his Telugu Tejam mission at Anantapur on September 15 as he did not want to aggravate differences among people. He is committed to promoting an amicable debate among people and not adding fuel to the fire. He will resume his tour depending on circumstances.
Dr. JP said that a true leader in a democracy should try to harmonize conflicting interests and not fan differences and fuel animosities. Unfortunately, Andhra Pradesh has become a lab for promoting animosities among people for narrow political interests. The situation has become so vitiated that the right to free expression is being attacked. The very leaders who garland portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and claim to hail from the land of the Buddha and Mahaveera are inciting hatred and violence.
Dr. JP appealed to political leaders as also youth, farmers and women to observe restraint and try to understand the others’ point of view.
Referring to the Government of India decision to impose a duty of 2.5 percent on crude palm oil and raise the duty on refined palm oil from 7.5 percent to 10 percent, Dr. JP said it would benefit mostly the industry and not the farmer. He pointed that the Lok Satta Party has for long demanded that duties be levied on imports of edible oils and pulses and the resultant revenue utilized for encouraging farmers to raise oilseeds and pulses. He demanded a 20 percent import duty on edible oils and pulses. The country during 2012-13 spent more than 14 billion US dollars equivalent to about Rs.90000 crore on import of edible oils and pulses. If farmers are encouraged, the country will save precious foreign exchange and people provided genuine food security.
State Lok Satta Party President Katari Srinivasa Rao pointed out that within minutes of Dr. JP launching his Telugu Tejam tour, some TV channels started spewing venom against him. It was unwarranted considering that the Lok Satta has taken a consistent stand on the Telangana issue unlike other political parties.
Lok Satta Party Vice President D. V. V. S. Varma and General Secretary Ravi Maruth took part in the media conference.
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Saturday, September 14, 2013
Friday, September 13, 2013
State Lok Satta Party President Katari Srinivasa Rao today appealed to people of Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema to take part in meetings being organized by the party as part of Telugu Tejam beginning on September 14.
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan is launching the two-week long campaign from Kurnool with a view to associating people in working out a comprehensive and amicable solution to problems thrown up by the Center’s decision to split Andhra Pradesh.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao pointed out that Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema will suffer economically if people there repeat the mistake of their counterparts in Telangana by calling for closure of schools, Government offices, businesses and road blockades.
He warned people to realize that political parties’ are trying to profit by fanning regional animosities between them. At the round-table conferences and public meetings being convened by the Lok Satta Party, they can convey their views on issues like protection to people living in Hyderabad, sharing of Hyderabad revenue, division of water resources, Government employees’ future and development of backward Rayalaseema.
During his visit to districts, Dr. JP will take part in road shows, round-table conferences and public meetings.
Following is the itinerary of Dr. JP:
Sep. 14 – Kurnool
Sep. 15 – Anantapur
Sep. 16 – Kadapa
Sep. 17 – Tirupati (Chittoor dist.)
Sep. 18 – Nellore
Sep. 19 – Ongole
Sep. 20 – Guntur
Sep. 22 – Vijayawada (Krishna dist.)
Sep. 23 – Bhimavaram/Eluru (West Godavari dist.)
Sep. 24 – Rajahmundry (East Godavari dist.)
Sep. 25 – Visakhapatnam
Sep. 26 – Vizianagaram
Sep. 27 – Srikakulam
Thursday, September 12, 2013
The Lok Satta Party today took exception to the statements of certain Telangana leaders on the status of Hyderabad as the joint capital of Telangana and residual Andhra Pradesh.
State Lok Satta Party President Katari Srinivasa Rao pointed out in a media statement that people in Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema have launched the united Andhra Pradesh movement fearing that their safety and prospects in Hyderabad will be jeopardized if the State is divided.
The statements by certain Telangana leaders and associations that they will not agree to Hyderabad being retained as the joint capital for 10 years will merely complicate the issue instead of leading to a solution. As a result of their statements, Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema people conclude there is no alternative to agitating for a united Andhra Pradesh. Those who genuinely seek formation of a separate Telangana State should understand the concerns of those who want the State to remain intact and adopt a give-and-take attitude to resolve the issue.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao said that people of Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema are paying the price for concentration of political power, administration and economic development in Hyderabad city by successive Governments. Telangana leaders should appreciate they are victims of perverse politics and failed leadership.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao said that the Congress Party sparked the united Andhra Pradesh agitation by its dictatorial decision to divide the State as if it were a party matter and without considering the concerns of Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema people regarding Hyderabad city and other matters. All of us should strive to address their concerns and dispel their fears, said Mr. Srinivasa Rao.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao counseled Telangana leaders to refrain from statements like “We won’t agree to keeping Hyderabad as common capital even for ten days”, “The number of employees who took part in the Save Andhra Pradesh meeting did not equal even the number of drivers who took part in Telangana employees’ meetings”, “Government employees will have no options” and “There will be reprisals.”
Mr. Srinivasa Rao appealed to Telangana leaders to join in efforts to finding a comprehensive and amicable solution and ending political uncertainty in the State. They should not become pawns in certain parties’ games to garner votes by splitting Telugu speaking people. They should resolve problems among themselves and fight together for Central funds.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
సామరస్యత పరిరక్షణకు, 'తెలుగు తేజం' పెంపొందించేందుకు జేపీ విస్తృత కార్యక్రమం ... 14 నుంచి జిల్లాల్లో పర్యటన
The Lok Satta Party is embarking on a mission to preserve and promote the pride and glory of Telugus, now endangered by the Delhi decision to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh.
The mission, titled Telugu Tejam, will see Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan mobilizing people’s support for a comprehensive and amicable solution to problems thrown up by the Center’s decision to carve out a separate Telangana State without taking all stakeholders into confidence.
To begin with, Dr. JP will be visiting important towns in Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra regions from September 14 to September 27 and interacting with all stakeholders at round-table conferences and public meetings.
He will call upon people, youth and students in particular, not to be swayed by passion and become pawns in political parties’ cynical machinations to garner their votes by fueling hatred and enmity.
Whether the State remains intact or is divided, the glory of Telugus and their language should not be sullied with people in different regions fighting against each other. All can emerge as winners if they are restrained, ready to reconsider their stand and adopt a ‘give and take’ attitude. What we need now is a quest for harmony, not a mindless conflict.
The Lok Satta recalls that instead of finding permanent solutions to problems bedeviling different regions of the State, all the mainstream political parties in the State have exploited a delicate issue for partisan vote bank politics. Both Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy and Mr. N. Chandrababu Naidu used the issue to further their prospects in the 2004 and 2009 general elections respectively. The YSR Congress Party is fishing in troubled waters now.
Treating Andhra Pradesh as their personal estate, the Congress Party and the Union Government have opted to divide the State without associating all stakeholders in decision making. As people in Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra took to the streets to protest their dictatorial decision, the Congress chose to appoint a party committee instead of one of the Government to hear their grievances. The Prime Minister has maintained studied silence even as the chasm between people of different regions is widening.
The Lok Satta Party says that solutions have to be found for five key issues as part of a comprehensive and amicable solution. They are:
People living in Hyderabad to whichever region they belong should be provided statutory protection in pursuing their profession or job or business. Of the 82 lakh people in Greater Hyderabad, those from Seemandhra region account for 33 lakh and from other regions of the country 10 lakh. The statutory provision should engender the confidence that the city belongs to all of them, and should promote growth and prosperity to benefit all Telugu Speaking regions.
Revenue from Hyderabad:
The surplus revenue from Greater Hyderabad has to be distributed for a finite period among all the regions in a rational manner. If they do not get a share in revenue from Hyderabad, they will not be in a position to pay even salaries of Government employees.
Thanks to the six-point formula in vogue since 1975, 95 percent of Government jobs are being filled at the local or zonal levels. Guidelines have to be drawn on sorting out problems concerning the remainder of five percent of employees at the State level.
Water resources’ distribution:
A committee should be constituted by law to ensure fair and equitable distribution of water resources acceptable to people of all regions.
A permanent solution should be provided to the most backward Rayalaseema region. The entire region remains backward because of deficient rainfall and absence of industrialization, whereas only some districts are backward in the other two regions. Unless its problems are addressed straightway, turmoil will engulf Rayalaseema in the near future.
The Lok Satta says that division of the State is possible only when people of all regions arrive at an understanding on the five burning issues. If the Center and the Congress Party believe that their job begins and ends with deciding on division, the State will continue to be a smoldering cauldron.
Following is the itinerary of Dr. JP:
Sep. 14 – Kurnool
Sep. 15 – Anantapur
Sep. 16 – Kadapa
Sep. 17 – Tirupati (Chittoor dist.)
Sep. 18 – Nellore
Sep. 19 – Ongole
Sep. 20 – Guntur
Sep. 22 – Vijayawada (Krishna dist.)
Sep. 23 – Bhimavaram (West Godavari dist.)
Sep. 24 – Rajahmundry (East Godavari dist.)
Sep. 25 – Visakhapatnam
Sep. 26 – Vizianagaram
Sep. 27 – Srikakulam
Dr. JP will be accompanied by State Lok Satta Party president Katari Srinivasa Rao, general secretary P. Ravimaruth, Vice-presidents of the three regions and other state and district leaders.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
The issue of state bifurcation needs to be settled permanently as soon as possible after a thorough discussion on the Floor of the Assembly on the development of all regions and ‘economic security’ of the people of Seemandhra region living in Hyderabad city, said Lok Satta Party national president Jayaprakash Narayan here Saturday.
Addressing a press conference, he said that dragging the issue would only harm Telugu people and appealed to the striking government employees to attend offices as continuation of the agitation would not only ruin their careers but also affect the common people.
Jayaprakash Narayan demanded that the Union government take statutory measures for providing economic security, employability in both the public and private sectors for the people of Seemandhra as nearly 33 lakh Seemandhra people were living in Hyderabad city.
He also asked the Centre to take legal steps for sharing of the revenues generated from Hyderabad. He also demanded clarity on water-sharing between the regions and a special package and water allotment to the Rayalaseema region.
Though he blamed the Congress Party for the present turmoil in the state, he also held former chief ministers -- late YS Rajashekara Reddy and Nara Chandrababu Naidu - responsible for the revival of the Telnagana movement. “Whatever is to be done to resolve the issue for the well-being of Telugus is to be done at the earliest - be it division of the state or keeping the state united,’’ he added.
Courtesy: The New Indian Express
Friday, September 6, 2013
The working committee of the state Lok Satta Party will be meeting at Vijayawada on September 7. Lok Satta Party national president Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be taking part in the meeting to be presided by the party state president Katari Srinivasa Rao.
The committee will discuss the current political situation in the state, review round tables conducted by the party in different regions to work out a comprehensive and amicable solution to the state bifurcation issue and decide on its future course of action.
The Lok Satta Party today welcomed the Rajya Sabha passing the Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013 providing for creation a Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).
It may be recalled that the Lok Satta had brought together three eminent judges of unimpeachable integrity and credibility to come up with proposals for judicial appointments and an Indian Judicial Service. The three judges – Chief Justice M. N. Venkatachalaiah, Chief Justice J. S. Verma and Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer – produced a report recommending formation of a National Judicial Commission for appointment of judges in higher courts and an Indian Judicial Service for competitive, nation-wide recruitment of judges at the district judge level.
The Lok Satta Party shared the report with all major political parties and parliamentarians and briefed Government and Opposition leaders on its salient features.
The Bill adopted by the Rajya Sabha on September 5 is a modified version of the proposals made by the three eminent judges, pointed out Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today.
In a media statement, Dr. JP said that the Bill associates the executive, legislature and judiciary in the appointment of higher judges. Combined with the Judicial Standards and Accountability law, the Bill ensures both quality and accountability in the higher judiciary. If the Indian Judicial Service also becomes a reality, it will provide a large pool of highly qualified judges in the subordinate judiciary for appointment to higher courts.
Dr. JP recalled that the Supreme Court usurped the power to appoint judges of higher courts for nearly two decades by introducing the collegiums system.
Dr. JP said: “This usurpation is plainly unconstitutional, and violates the principle of checks and balance in relation to organs of the State. In no other democracy judges are the sole appointing authority of judges. Even in practice, appointment of judges by the Supreme Court collegium has been found to be unsatisfactory and undermining the quality and credibility of the judiciary“.
Dr. JP pointed out that the Indian judiciary plays a seminal rule in safeguarding citizens’ liberty, promoting rule of law and above all in reconciling and harmonizing conflicting points of view in a highly diverse and polarized society like India. Therefore, the courts’ credibility and quality of individual judges are critical.
The proposed Judicial Appointments Commission will comprise the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, two Supreme Court judges, Law Minister and Law Secretary and two eminent jurists. The jurists will be chosen by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, leader of the Opposition and Chief Justice of India.
Dr. JP appealed to all political parties, jurists and members of the bar to support the proposal for constitution of the Indian Judicial Service also.
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
The Supreme Court has demonstrated its judicial wisdom and commitment to constitutionalism and rule of law in its two verdicts concerning the polity, said Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan in a media statement here today.
Dr. JP was referring to the Supreme Court’s recent order about the persons to be appointed to central and state information commissions and its refusal to exempt convicted legislators from disqualification.
Dr. JP pointed out that in the last 25 years, the Supreme Court has emerged as the nation’s most trusted institution. Through its two latest verdicts, the apex court has established the majesty of the higher judiciary and earned the esteem of the public.
At the same time, Dr. JP said, the Supreme Court is not infallible. During the Emergency, the Supreme Court failed to protect people’s lives in the habeas corpus case. The apex court usurped the power to appoint judges against all canons of constitutionalism and democratic governance. In a self-serving order earlier, the Court ruled that only Judges and Jurists could be appointed as members of autonomous bodies and quasi-judicial authorities. It delivered a bizarre verdict in holding NEET as unconstitutional. It has done immense harm to the economy by imposing blanket bans on mining.
The Court now wisely reversed its ruling on appointments to Information Commissions, and corrected its error. Similarly, the Court’s Order quashing Sec 8(4) of the RP Act, and holding that legislators convicted of a crime are disqualified from contesting is a sound an unassailable verdict. By rejecting government’s plea to review its judgment, the Court acted with wisdom and fairness.
Dr. JP said that the Supreme Court should focus on being the guardian of the Constitution and refrain from encroaching on executive authority or indulging in judicial overreach. It is restraint and wisdom that gives the Supreme Court greater credibility. The Supreme Court, he said, has displayed great humility and willingness to correct past mistakes by reversing its earlier order on appointments to information commissions.
Dr. JP said that checks and balances are the hallmarks of a well functioning democracy. The legislature, executive and judiciary should all work with clarity, humility and balance to protect liberty and promote prosperity.
Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be taking part in Teacher’s Day celebrations at Sangareddy in Medak district on Thursday, September 5. The Nagarjuna B.Ed, Degree & PG College is organizing the function.
Later in the day, Dr. JP will be launching the Lok Satta Party membership drive and interact with party workers and leaders at Sangareddy.