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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 30.11.2012

President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee participated in the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly today (30 November, 2012). He also laid the foundation stone for a Hostel for former Legislators and released a Diamond Jubilee Souvenir.

The President urged the Legislators to take a solemn pledge on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations to restore the glory and grandeur of our Legislative Bodies.

The President said that the Constitution of India places the Legislative Assembly at the centre of governance in a State and conceives of it as the primary instrument for socio-economic change. The primary responsibility of State Legislature is to enact laws required for good governance and administration of the State. List-2 of the Seventh Schedule of our Constitution lists 66 items for State administration and legislation.

He reminded the members that being a representative of the people is a matter of privilege and a great honour. This privilege however carries with it great responsibility. Elected representatives have many roles to play and there are competing demands - from one's Party, from the Assembly and from the constituency. The job of a legislator is a 24/7 responsibility. The legislator have to be sensitive and responsive to the problems and concerns of the people, give voice to their grievances, hardships and problems by raising them on the floor of the Legislature and act as the link between the people and the Government.

He stated that the Legislative Assembly is the master of the Executive in the sense that the Chief Minister along with his Council of Ministers is accountable collectively and severally to the Legislative Assembly. The Executive can be unseated at any time by passing a resolution of No Confidence in the State Legislative Assembly by a simple majority. Moreover, most of the instruments of governance are executed through appropriate laws passed by Legislatures. The Executive's dependence on Legislature is total and it is essential that legislation are done with due care and attention so that the views of our democratic functioning move smoothly.

He said there is need for utmost caution in matters of legislation, money and finance. Elected representatives have exclusive control over money and finance. No expenditure can be incurred by the Executive without approval of Legislature, no tax can be levied except by a law passed by the Legislature and no money can be withdrawn from the Consolidated Fund of the State without the approval of the Legislature. With the heightened complexity of administration and legislation, Legislators must ensure adequate discussion and scrutiny before passing of legislation.

He said that parliamentary practices, procedures and conventions are all meant to provide for orderly and expeditious transaction of business. The imperative of maintaining discipline and decorum in the House and the observance of rules, conventions and etiquette can hardly be over-emphasised. Dissent is a recognized democratic expression, but it should be expressed with decency and within the contours and parameters of parliamentary practices, norms and conventions. The cardinal principle of effective functioning of a Parliamentary system is that majority will rule and minority will oppose, expose and if possible, depose. But this should be done within the framework of rules framed by Legislatures themselves. The minority has to accept the decisions of the majority while the majority has to respect the views of the minority.

He stressed that the disruption should never be allowed to be used as an effective Parliamentary intervention. It should be the endeavour of every legislator to ensure that the content and the quality of debates that take place in this chamber are of a high order befitting their status as people's representatives. As members of different political Parties, individual Legislators would be guided by their respective Party's manifesto and policies. However, there are a large number of issues of development and public welfare, which transcend all partisan barriers. The entire Assembly must work jointly for the benefit of the people, the State and the country. In short, the role and functions of an Assembly can be described as three D's i.e. debate, dissent and decision. A fourth 'D' that is 'disruption' should be strictly avoided.

He remarked that all legislators and political parties must recognize that democracy is about welfare, good governance and all round development of society and not competitive populism.

Speaking on the occasion, the President expressed serious concern over the tendency in some States to enact legislation through Ordinance. He said Ordinances should be normally promulgated only in the event of immediate need.

There is need for collective thinking by political parties and leaders of our country on how to ensure smooth running of our Parliament and Legislative Assemblies and whether some of the existing rules need to be amended for the purpose.

This release issued at 1730 hrs