Home >> Press Releases >> Press Release Detail


Rashtrapati Bhavan : 19.01.2015

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee delivered through Video Conferencing a New Year Message on the topic ‘Parliament and Policymaking’ to Central Universities, IITs, NITs and other Institutions using the National Knowledge Network from Rashtrapati Bhavan today (January 19, 2015).

The President also responded to questions on (1) the remedy to check disruptions in Parliament, (2) way out when ruling party does not have numbers in Rajya Sabha, (3) the Ordinance route to enact legislation and (4) making the budget making process participative.

A webcast of the address and the Q & A session is available onhttp://webcast.gov.in/president/

Addressing the students and faculty, the President said the year 2014 was an eventful year for India’s polity. After three decades, Indian electorate decided to give a single party the majority to form a stable government. The outcome of the elections to the 16th Lok Sabha provides political stability and gives a mandate to the elected government to fulfill its commitment to the people by using its majority in formulating policies and making laws to implement those policies.

The President said in a democracy, the Parliament has three vital functions – representation, law-making and oversight. The Parliament stands for the will and aspirations of the people. It is the platform where through debate and deliberations, this ‘will’ and ‘aspirations’ have to be prioritized and translated into laws, policies and concrete programmes of action. When that does not happen, an important element in the functioning of a democracy gets compromised to the disadvantage of the people.

The President said law-making or legislation is the exclusive domain of the Parliament and the legislative assemblies in our Parliamentary democracy. In law-making, the easy part is the act of passing a Bill. The harder part is the negotiations for reconciling the interests of different groups for the legislation. A legislature is effective only if it is able to address the differences amongst stakeholders and succeeds in building a consensus for the law to be enacted and enforced. When the Parliament fails in discharging its law-making role or enacts law without discussion, it breaches the trust reposed in it by the people. This is neither good for the democracy nor for the policies anchored in those laws.

The President said policies have to address concerns of different stakeholders in a society in the larger national interest. Policymaking in India’s context is guided by its Constitution. The Parliament having aided policy formulation also ensures that policy and programmes that it has helped define through legislation is implemented in the envisaged manner. It exercises oversight, to ensure that programmes are carried out by the Executive legally, effectively and for the purposes they are intended. Parliamentary oversight extends also to two other important functions. Parliament enjoys exclusive power of total control on money and finance. Every taxation and every receipt and expenditure to and from the Consolidated Fund of India is subject to the approval of the Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha. The other important supervisory power of the Parliament over the Executive is that the highest Executive authority i.e. the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers function as long as they enjoy the confidence of the popularly-elected House and can be removed by a simple majority of the House through a motion of no-confidence.

The President said the Parliament’s role in policy articulation, its implementation and oversight is critical. It is, therefore, incumbent on the Members of the Parliament to discuss and undertake adequate scrutiny of all business transacted in the House. Unfortunately, the time devoted by the Members in Parliament has been gradually declining. The first three Lok Sabhas had 677, 581 and 578 sittings, respectively. Compared to that, the 13th, 14th and 15thLok Sabhas had 356, 332 and 357 sittings, respectively. We all should hope that the 16th Lok Sabha reverses this trend.

The President said there is a growing tendency to resort to disruption as a means of Parliamentary intervention. Dissent is a recognized democratic expression, but disruption leads to loss of time and resources, and paralyzes policy formulation. The cardinal principle of Parliamentary Democracy is that the majority has the mandate to rule while 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 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. The framers also deemed it necessary to impose certain restrictions on this extraordinary legislative power by constitutionally mandating replacement of such Ordinances within a timeframe by the legislators. Article 123 (2) provides that an ordinance must be replaced by a law not later than six weeks from the re-assembly of the two Houses. Article 85 further provides that six months shall not intervene between the last sitting of one session and the first sitting of the next session.

The President said India’s diversity and the magnitude of its problems require that the Parliament becomes a more effective platform to build consensus on public policies and a bulwark of our democratic ideals. The proceedings in Parliament must be conducted in a spirit of cooperation, harmony and purpose. The content and quality of debates should be of a high order. Maintenance of discipline and decorum in the House and observance of etiquette and decency are necessary.

The President cautioned the Parliament to not yield its space for legislating and policymaking to mass mobilization and street-protests, for that may not always provide considered solutions to our problems. To retain the trust and faith of the people, the Parliament must enact laws to put in place policies that address the concerns and aspirations of the people.

This release issued at 1550 hrs