|Thursday, February 24, 2000,
from the President
instinct and punishment
Signals from the President
MIDDLE class homes are warned to fasten the seat belt as their household budget is about to enter air turbulence. This blunt speaking is one of the highlights of the Presidents Address to the joint session of Parliament. The government has pledged to prune or even abolish non-priority expenditure, though it knows that it will cause hardship to the people. This temporary cost has to be borne stoically to bring down the ballooning deficit and interest payment and push up investment and economic growth to about 7 per cent. That and a massive capital inflow into the agriculture sector are essential to create employment and, yes, ensure social justice, the Address says. This jam-tomorrow theme runs through the Address as is the central concern for the poor. At the very outset, the government has conceded that the poor have the first claim on any economic gains and it has ended by asserting that the poor are at the centre of our developmental efforts. The repeated reference to the deprived is a bit of a surprise from a government which is poised to launch the second generation of hard economic reforms. It could a subtle trade-off against forcing the President to willy-nilly own up the need to examine the working of the Constitution. If the review is a pet project of the ruling alliance, providing the poor with at least a footpath as the advantaged race along the three-lane highway of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation is dear to the President. Another striking point is about law and order in the country. The government claims that the situation is near normal, and communal harmony is in excellent condition. There was no protest from any member at this curious statement though MPs from Assam and Bihar raised a din over Bodoland and Vananchal. Soldiers received a full-hearted thank-you for engaging themselves in a grim fight with armed mercenaries but were reassured that the governments pro-active policy was biting.
For the rest, it was a
very long list of reforms in the industrial, financial,
infrastructural and trade areas. In fact, he patiently
read out 15 changes the government has either
accomplished or is determined to achieve. Nothing new in
all these. There was the expected reiteration of
Indias stand on world trade, on which there is a
near unanimity. The government believes that it is a
multipolar world and there is much diplomatic space for
non-alignment. This follows the glowing reference to
President Clintons visit and the bilateral
agreement to fight cross-border terrorism. Relations with
Russia will be strengthened but Israel will get greater
attention and the BJP has been an ardent suitor of the
Jewish country for long. China too finds mention but that
is more in the context of the Presidents
forthcoming visit in May. It was one of the longest
Addresses by a President and no doubt members were
passive for much of the time with a few openly yawning.
True, it is an occasion when the government unfolds its
programme for the financial year, but there was no need
to go into dreary details. That is the reason why such an
important announcement that primary education would be
compulsory within three years went nearly unnoticed. If
the government had talked in terms of its overall
philosophy, the education bit would have become a major
highlight and galvanised everyone. The sombre call for
sacrifice made in the Address in the first few minutes is
likely to be followed by a steep increase in the price of
diesel, kerosene and cooking gas. That announcement, and
not the Presidents address, will usher in the mood
of the budget session.
An ordeal ends
THE final phase of the Assembly elections in Bihar and Haryana has ended, leaving fewer bruises on the national mind than expected or feared. The first phase of the poll was made gory by Naxalites and goons or goondas hired by certain candidates in Bihar. The police, security men and officials on election duty were on the receiving end; a considerable number of such persons lost their lives or sustained injuries. The worst hit was the social fabric of the state where mutually antagonistic sub-castes found themselves further divided and vulgarly used by wily politicians. Tuesday showed a different trend, thanks to the meticulous planning done in time by the Election Commission. The tide turned. The security personnel hit back, killing at least 14 booth-grabbers. One of the most wanted criminals in the country met his nemesis with six of his heavily armed associates. Among the others who lost their lives were three supporters of two candidates, including a woman. If one judges the violent scenario in the larger perspective of the past and the credentials of the notorious persons in the fray, the price paid by the system for an impressive voter turn-out of 65 per cent or so is less than heart-breaking. Orissa and Manipur came out with about 60 per cent and 72 per cent of the voters, respectively. The people of Orissa deserve abundant praise for ignoring their recent cyclonic losses and voting for a bright future. The number of the total votes polled is impressive although this factor cannot be said to be an indicator of the satisfactory quality of the franchise.
Haryana, the vibrant
regional territory, witnessed heavy polling about
68 per cent. But Hisar, Bahadurgarh, Ambala, Jind and
Panchkula did dot fail to exhibit the manifestations of
the dubious inter-party political psyche. Nobody expected
"uneventful" proceedings there. Look at these
figures: 11.1 million voters, 90 Assembly constituencies
and a 90-member Assembly! Bullets must fly, bogus voting
must not allow the continuing tend to be interrupted, and
top candidates, led by the Chief Minister, should not let
the election laws remain inviolate. The ordeal has ended
but not quite well. In Mr Laloo Yadav's jungle and in the
pocket borough of the Lals, the quality of votes has not
been splendid. Despite the possibility of large-scale
repolling after mass-scale rigging, the fact remains that
we are unable to comprehend this basic constitutional
idea: parliamentary democracy is representative democracy
and its success depends on how the people vote. When the
Constitution-makers, elected on a limited franchise,
referred to "We, the people", they not only
sought to widen their base but also made it known that
they knew their ultimate masters. Howsoever illiterate or
uninstructed, "they could be mobilised for effective
action". The masters have voted not merely for
individuals; they have put their stamps on the policies
of parties or their alliances. Politicians have dithered
repeatedly on many points concerning major socio-economic
issues in the states which have gone to the polls. They
have not just truckled to the multitudes. They have asked
for their verdict, which will come with its surprises
Iranians for reform
FRIDAY'S parliamentary (Majlis) elections in Iran, bringing a comfortable majority to the President Mohammad Khatami-led reform movement in the 290-member House, have clearly established two things. One, the Iranian people are sick of religious extremism and desire to have a tolerant and liberal atmosphere. Two, the power struggle between the clerics of two varieties the traditionalists or hardliners and the reformists has helped in the evolution of a new kind of democracy not exactly moulded on western lines. The reform movement spearheaded by President Khatami has been on the ascendant with his elevation to the highest electoral office in the country in 1997, when he trounced Mr Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri with a comfortable margin. Since then Mr Khatami has been like a magnet for the younger generation of voters and the women in general who have been the main sufferers in Iran because of the extremist policies of the hardliners since the overthrow of the monarchy by the Ayatollah Khomeini-led Islamic Revolution in 1979. It is these two sections of the voters who have been instrumental in the victory of most of the pro-reform candidates belonging to the Islamic Iran Participation Party (IIPP) having the blessings of President Khatami. People in large numbers are supporting the Khatami-led movement not because the President wants to do away with the Islamic system that came into being under the influence of the late Ayatollah Khomeini. A soft-spoken religious scholar, Mr Khatami has been interpreting Islamic laws in a manner easily acceptable to the younger people as well as women. His moderate stance won him the ridicule of the outgoing parliament which even used the pro-hardliners judiciary to punish his vocal supporters. But this only swelled his following. His emergence as the most popular leader since 1997 has been helped by the media too despite the odds it has to suffer for promoting the cause of reform.
However, the cause that
Mr Khatami has espoused is unlikely to reach great
heights unless it gets the much-needed support of the
world at large. The Iranian economy is passing through a
period of grave crisis. The situation has unfortunately
worsened since Mr Khatami captured the presidency three
years ago. Sky-rocketing prices have virtually turned the
Iranian rial into a valueless currency. Today even 8,300
rials are not considered enough to buy a US dollar in the
open market. There is widespread unemployment even among
university products. Life has never been more miserable
in Iran, a country where every kind of industrial
activity is controlled by the government. The country has
been sliding towards economic uncertainty since the USA
imposed its sanctions after the 1979 hostage crisis
involving American nationals. Iran is a major oil
producer the second largest among the members of
the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries
but this advantage too has failed to bring it out of the
economic morass. The much-publicised remedy of
privatisation may not lessen the miseries of the Iranians
so soon. It takes its own time and that too with no
guarantee. The new political dispensation will have to
devise a mechanism to control the price rise and
introduce schemes for job creation on a war-footing to
consolidate the gains made by the reformists.
THE provision for the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and the High Courts contained in Articles 124 and 217 remains the same as originally enacted. But the need for a change is being debated primarily on account of the manner in which the provision is seen to be worked. In the first 25 years of the Constitution, there was no serious comment in any responsible quarter on the manner of exercise of the power of appointment. A convention had developed that without the express use of such language, the opinion of the Chief Justice of India, formed in consultation with the executive, was given primacy. However, in the seventies, the executive began to claim primacy in the matter of appointments and transfers, which led to the first judges case (S.P. Gupta vs Union of India, Air 1982 SC 149) wherein the Supreme Court itself upheld the executives claim of primacy. That led to the executives supremacy in the matter of appointment as of right, which threatened the independence of the judiciary.
Dissatisfaction with the working of the process led to the second judges case (SCAOR vs Union of India, AIR 1994 SC 268),wherein the primacy of the opinion of the judiciary expressed through the Chief Justice of India came to be established in emphasising that the role of the executive and the judiciary was participatory, the exercise being joint in which both have a role to play. However, recently some dissatisfaction is surfacing with regard to this view also, which led to the Presidential reference and the third judges case (Special Reference No. 1 of 1998, 1998 (5) Scale 629), which reaffirmed the law laid down in the second judges case. There is disquiet even now and a debate is on for the setting up of a National Judicial Commission. This would require amendment of the relevant provisions in the Constitution.
It is significant that Articles 124 and 217 remain as enacted originally but the perception has been changing depending on the manner in which the process has been seen to work from time to time. It is obvious that the blame does not lie on the provisions as enacted, but the manner in which they have been seen to work at different times. This variation has occurred only because of the attitudinal differences among the men who have worked these provisions at various times.
The point to remember is that these provisions assign a participatory role to both the executive and the judiciary, and it was expected that the viewpoints of both would be taken into consideration; any confrontation between them would be avoided and both would discharge their role keeping in view the aim of making the best possible appointments from among those available to fill these high offices. So long as the healthy convention of respecting the point of view of the other side and giving due weight to the opinion of the other wing because of it being in a better position to assess a particular trait of the candidate is respected and the aim of both is to find the most suitable person for appointment, the situation of confrontation and the need to claim or determine primacy between them would not arise. The power given to both wings by these provisions is not to be treated as a personal empowerment but the imposition of a responsibility to find the most suitable person for appointment.
Only the correct perception of the purpose for which the power is given can avoid confrontation. The absence of express provision of primacy to either appears to have been to emphasise that it is the joint responsibility of both wings to work together to make the best possible selection which really is the object of enactment of the provision. May be, the present situation warrants a review in the light of the experience gained so far to indicate clearly what was implicit throughout in these provisions which were so enacted as to avoid the possibility of strict postures being adopted by either side with a view to promoting a spirit of moderation in each to appreciate the value of the others opinion.
Another instance worth recalling is related to the continuing political instability which has forced frequent general elections at great cost to the public exchequer. The provisions in the Constitution which have relevance for the purpose of ensuring political stability needed for good governance require to be examined for this reason. In my view, the main cause of the continuing political instability in the country is the waning political morality and the absence of issue-based politics to distinguish the political parties. The predominance of personal interest over public interest is a major cause.
These aberrations also promote the culture of shifting loyalties and defection of the elected representatives for personal gain. The anti-defection law enacted in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution is ineffective to curb defections, and the loopholes therein have at times facilitated defections instead of curbing that tendency. In the process, the adjudicative power conferred on the Speaker has also led to the erosion of the credibility of the office of Speaker at times. This area is certainly in need of review, requiring a fresh anti-defection law to be enacted in the light of the experience gained so far.
There is also need to have certain provisions in the Constitution which would ensure the life of the Lok Sabha and the Vidhan Sabhas for a fixed term or at least a substantial part thereof, and a vote of no-confidence providing also for an alternative government to replace the one voted out of power to prevent a vacuum. There is also need for a provision for automatic termination of the term of an elected member in case he changes the party on whose ticket he got elected. This is necessary for retaining the representative character of the elected representative. These are some of the areas which require the exercise of review of the Constitution because of the waning political morality.
In respect of the judiciary also, there is an area requiring review. That pertains to the mode of enforcement of accountability of the higher judiciary for which the only existing provision of impeachment has been found wanting. In the only one instance of attempt at impeachment, it did not work in spite of the finding of guilty recorded by the Judges Tribunal constituted under the Judges Enquiry Act, 1968, enacted by Parliament under Article 124 of the Constitution. It cannot be disputed that in a democratic republic wherein the political sovereignty vests in the people and equality is a core value, there cannot be any class of persons who are not accountable to the people or are above law.
Moreover, judicial accountability is only a facet of the independence of judiciary and not inconsistent with it. Judicial accountability also ensures immunity of judges from internal infirmities with total independence. Judicial accountability is also in consonance with the constitutional scheme because of the enactment of Article 235 in original Constitution which empowers the High Courts to exercise control over the subordinate judiciary. Independence is as essential for a judge in a subordinate court as it is for a judge of the High Court or of the Supreme Court, and no one has doubted the need of Article 235.
In the Constitution, as framed, no need was felt for a similar provision in respect of the higher judiciary because it was expected that the provision of impeachment alone in extreme cases, which may be exceptional, was sufficient and the traditions and conventions practised at the highest level of the judiciary would be sufficient to regulate the conduct of all superior judges. However, experience has shown that it is not so, and in the exceptional cases where the need arose to enforce judicial accountability, it could not be done because of the absence of an effective mode for enforcing the judicial accountability of judges at the higher level. This is clear from the few instances within public knowledge, and the felt need can no longer be wished away.
It may, therefore, be desirable to device a suitable machinery for enforcing judicial accountability even at the higher level of the judiciary by making the appropriate amendments in the Constitution and enacting a law for that purpose. Care must, however, be taken to ensure that the mechanism is not susceptible to misuse, and the adjudication of the alleged misconduct or misdemeanour is only by a tribunal comprising members of the higher judiciary and that the role of the executive is confined only to the implementation of the recommendation made in the judicial verdict. This is necessary to preserve the independence of the judiciary, which is a basic feature of the Constitution and essential for the rule of law to survive.
The federal nature of the polity has to be preserved by suitable amendment to prevent any misuse of the power guaranteed by Article 356, taking care that the unity and integrity of the nation and the constitutional machinery is preserved.
One area of inter-state disputes which has come to the fore in recent times relates to the conflict of parochial interests in the sharing of national resources such as river waters. The time has come to realise that the utilisation of all natural resources must be made in a manner which serves the common interest irrespective of the territorial boundaries of the states so that optimum use is made thereof. A realistic mechanism for a desirable solution of all pending inter-state river disputes and other similar disputes must be found, if necessary, by suitable constitutional amendments.
In short, in areas where defect has surfaced essentially in the manner of working of a provision and not in the provision itself, the need may be only to constitutionalise a desirable convention for working the provision which has served the purpose when it was worked properly. In areas where the need for a change in the provision has surfaced because of the deficiency in the provision itself, the need may be to recast the provision in a suitable manner keeping in mind the past experience. It must, however, be emphasised that the entire exercise must be in conformity with the basic structure of the Constitution which is sound and in line with the constitutional promise in the Preamble, which is the lodestar by which we must chart our course.
In all humility, it is my considered view that a case of rethinking is made out only to this extent. In essence, a change necessary to effectively alter the course of working of the Constitution by preventing a possible distortion of the machinery by its operators is the need of the hour. INFA
No takers for defence services
GONE are the days when soldiering travelled in the line and the sons and grandsons of a fauji took pride in joining the traditional profession of their forefathers. Today you hardly find youngsters even from the well-known military families opting for the armed forces.
What is worrisome is that in a vast, poor and overpopulated country like India, which is also afflicted with unemployment, we continue to be short of manpower in the defence forces for the past several years. And this shortage is increasing by the year. The shortage of officers in the Army, which was about 12,000 four years ago, has climbed to a figure of 13,300 now, while in the Navy and the Air Force it is about 700 and 3,000, respectively. Over 80 per cent of the shortage in the Army is in the middle-ranking officers Majors and Captains.
Another trend that is becoming popular with the officers is to put in their papers for premature retirement. They do this to seek a second career in their post-retirement life while they are still young. Notwithstanding the reasons the military authorities may ascribe to this development, the fact remains that more and more officers are getting disgruntled with the military life with every passing year, for it takes much more out of them than it returns in the way of promotional benefits, pay packets and status.
Several measures have been adopted over the years to offset the shortage of officers in the Army. In 1996, the Shimla-based Army Training Command (ARTRAC) issued a document called Commercial Public Relations for the Army. This document, among other things, stated that the loss of glamour, the erosion of image, disgruntlement and frustration, especially at the middle and lower levels plus the thankless attitude of the countrymen were the reasons for bringing the Army service down in the eyes of our youth.
To refurbish the image of the Army, services of the electronic media were hired by Army Headquarters. Though lakhs of rupees were wasted on this PR exercise, the results were not encouraging.
Another measure adopted by the government in 1997 was the introduction of a new commission. Under this scheme, JCOs, NCOs and other ranks (ORs) who were in the age group of 30 to 35 years and possessed the Army Senior School Certificate (Class XI, CBSE pattern) were commissioned as officers, provided they were selected by the Services Selection Boards (SSBs). Those who entered into the officer-rank through this entry were called Special Commissioned Officers. This scheme too belied the expectations of completing the strength of officers.
Since both measures have proved abortive, it has now been planned to reduce the training period of cadets at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) by six months. The direct entry cadets will undergo one-year training instead of 18 months, and the National Defence Academy (NDA) cadets will do six months training at the IMA instead of one year. No doubt, the reduction of the training period will quicken the commissioning of officers into the Army, helping in arresting the shortfall of officers at its present level. But to say that the reduction of the training period will not affect the training schedule and the quality of officers is not correct.
Yet another plan chalked out by the Army to overcome the shortage is to increase the annual intake of cadets at the IMA by about 1,000. Hopefully, the reduction of the training period and the increased intake will improve the situation to some extent. But, then, how are we going to complete the deficiency of those officers who are lining up to leave the service prematurely? What is causing concern to the military hierarchy is that their number is increasing every year. The gravity of the situation can be imagined from the fact that given an opportunity like the golden handshake, the majority of the officers would like to leave the Army.
It is pity that the armed forces are not attracting even second-rate candidates to join them these days. The prevailing socio-economic scenario and the greed for money have made service in the armed forces so unattractive that a young man who can enter any other service would not think of joining the Army. Even a Class-II service is preferred by most to a career in the defence forces. Most of our youths prefer to go in for private and public sector jobs.
What the Army offers is an unsettled life, service at high altitudes and in field areas, many of which are totally inhospitable. Add to this, the risk of war and the long drawn-out low-intensity conflict in J and K and in the North-East (which has taken a heavy toll of life), prolonged separation from families and early retirement.
Besides, promotions in the Army are so slow that it takes an officer 18 to 19 years to become just a Lt-Colonel. In this much time, his counterparts in the civil services reach the top rung of the ladder. Not only that, 85 per cent officers get superseded up to the rank of a Colonel.
The only way to attract the right kind of material, in required numbers, to the armed forces is to improve their terms and conditions of service, including a substantial increase in salaries, perks and other benefits. The other areas that need immediate attention are housing, childrens education, slow promotions and large-scale supersessions.
To overcome the stagnation problem, lateral movement of officers to paramilitary forces, civil services, private and public sectors is the answer. No less important is to provide a respectable retired life with good pensionary and medical benefits. Apart from making the defence services attractive, these measures will also help in bringing down the number of officers who opt for premature retirement.
What has damaged the
morale of the armed forces most is the fall in their
status. It is rightly said that after every war the
status of the defence services has plummeted to a new
low. Before Independence the Commander-in-Chief formed
part of top hierarchy. But with the gradual scaling down,
today a service chief and a vice-chief figure 12th and
23rd in the warrant of precedence. And this downgrading
has affected all the ranks down the line. Incidentally,
in western democracies, the status of the armed forces is
as high today as it was a few decades ago. Nothing raises
the morale of a soldier more than his izzat.
The government should, therefore, carefully look into
this important psychological factor to restore his
pristine status to him.
Killer instinct and punishment
THERE are differing views and opinions on capital punishment, some for the death sentence and certain others against it. An interesting debate is on in the country. Capital punishment, though rare in India, still remains in the statute books. The Supreme Court has held that the death sentence is not violative of Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution as the judge makes the choice between capital sentence and imprisonment for life on the basis of circumstances, facts and the nature of the crime brought on record during trial.
According to five-member of the Supreme Court, capital punishment is not violative of Articles 14, 18 and 21 and, therefore, constitutionally valid. The court also rejected the contention that hanging by rope, as prescribed by Section 354(5) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1073, is barbaric, inhuman and degrading and, therefore, violative of Article 21.
The controversy over the effectiveness of the death penalty in acting as a crime deterrent and its perceived unethical and immoral angle has been hanging fire world over. There is no conclusive statistical evidence that the death penalty is a better deterrent than alternative punishments. To say that a saint has a past and a sinner a future may be politically correct and win applause and appreciation. It is not clear how the abolition of the death penalty would raise the cultural level. The death penalty is given only once in the rarest of rare cases for heinous crimes where death alone is deemed sufficient. These penalties are confirmed by the highest court in each country. In such cases, the execution of the murderer ensures that he cannot kill again. The idea of this is that a person must pay for the harm he has done. Unfortunately conventional wisdom enjoins that no one does anything wrong and criminals are mere victims of society. If our society is too squeamish to call crime by its right name, it will lose its first best defence against criminals.
John Stuart Mill as an Utilitarian made a long and impassioned plea in Parliament in 1868 in favour of capital punishment. For those who favour death penalty, their vote for the sentence would continue even if it were shown that the threat of execution could not deter prospective murderers, who are not already deterred by the threat of imprisonment. It is said that crime should not go unpunished and such punishments should be in accordance with the enormity of the crime committed. By way of punishing a criminal, we are, in fact, sending out a signal, showing what is in store for the crime-doer.
The arguments for and against capital punishment are too familiar. It is pointed out that this inherent arbitrariness in the award of death penalty is unfair and against equality of all human beings and is totally antithetical to the rule of law. The South African constitutional court recently declared death penalty to be unconstitutional. The crime committed should have no role to play in the psyche of a judge who is expected to remain unswayed by populist sentiment on whom has been conferred the power of life and death over a fellow human being.
The calculated and cold-blooded execution of a person convicted of murder does not serve any penological purpose. The global trend is towards abolition of the death penalty and 57 countries, including the UK, Germany, Brazil and Nicaragua, have abolished it as a means of securing human rights. At the recent session of the UN Human Rights Commission, India, Pakistan, the USA and China were the only opponents to the abolition of capital punishment.
In the face of escalating violence and killings by the police, terrorist groups in places like Punjab, Kashmir and Bihar, the words of Bernard Shaw seem to ring true. And so to the end of history, murder shall breed murder, always in the name of right and honour and peace until the Gods are tired of blood and create a race that can understand. It is argued that it is time for mere mortals to work towards abolition of capital punishment from this country as it annihilates the dignity and sanctity of human life.
Lofty proclamations notwithstanding, capital punishment continues to remain in our statute books even if the courts have the power to resort to this penalty only in rare cases. Perhaps vested interest in our society is far too strong to expect the deletion of the death penalty from the statutes in view of the awkward implications it would have for an otherwise arcane criminal justice administration. And the protagonists try to justify it in terms of the presumed deterrent effect.
The crucial question is whether death penalty per se is constitutional. All international and national human rights groups have campaigned against the death penalty that is something violative of the UN convention on civil and political rights. The judiciary in India has been extremely divided over the issue of constitutional validity of the death penalty. In deciding whether a provision in law upholds or violates the basic right to life and personal liberty, and more importantly in asserting the indispensability this right, there must be a recognition that the right itself is indivisible. The procedures followed by the court, particularly in the matter of death penalty, has a logic of its own that cannot be influenced by the legislature.
At a different level, those who canvass that the world community cease executions are part of the bigger dream to create a more humanesociety, only that they are not mere day-dreamers. On the contrary, they are driven by a sense of realism that this can be realised by several small steps alone, not by carrying out convictions in a large number of cases relating to rape and other heinous crimes and resorting to capital punishment at will. Only when society understands the need to be reasonable in dealing with the guilty, it can ultimately hope to abolish capital punishment. But a society that is wanting even in these basic respects is unlikely to view the death sentence as a violation of the right to life.
Besides the religious compunctions about the sanctity of life and the humanitarian choice of reform, rather than retribution, the passionate advocacy of the protagonists for retaining the ultimate penalty are not entirely feeble. The criminal justice system has not failed in countries such as France, the UK and Israel which do not have capital punishment nor is it a great success as a deterrent in the USA, where it is in use.
If there is to be near
unanimity on anything, it will be easy to reform the
judicial system in general, and the penal provisions in
particular so that the nefarious activities can be
checked and the rendering of justice will be smooth with
AT a recent meeting of the Madras Council a number of questions were asked as to why a circular issued by the Guntur District Board to schoolmasters under its control to persuade students to use Khaddar dress as far as possible was declared illegal.
The Minister in charge of Local Self-government stated that it was not the business of the Guntur District Board to enforce the use of Khaddar by its employees.
The text of the circular was not quoted, but if it only sought to persuade people to use Khaddar, there was clearly nothing even remotely objectionable in it. On the other hand, it was distinctly praiseworthy.
It is the Governments own attitude in this matter which deserves to be condemned, both because it amounts to unnecessary interference with a local body in purely local affairs and because it puts an indirect premium on the use of foreign goods.
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