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Domicile rule for RS MPs mandatory

Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar’s petition on the legislation diluting the domicile clause for Rajya Sabha membership has now been referred to a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court. In this context, V. Eshwar Anand’s article “The domicile rule: Parliament has no power to amend it” (June 16) examines the constitutional validity of the Representation of People (Amendment) Act, 2003. The apex court had given only temporary relief to Rajya Sabha members as it made it mandatory for the candidates to mention their domicile status and the name of the constituency from where they contested.

This impugned amendment not only undermines federalism as an integral part of the basic structure of the Constitution but also goes against Article 80 (b) ensuring representation in Upper House to States and Union Territories. It is a fact that only bonafide residents of the state can articulate people’s concerns in a better way. By amending it, the Rajya Sabha’s status as the “Council of the States” has been adversely affected.

Dr RAJKUMAR SIWACH, Lecturer, Public Admn., G.N. Khalsa College, Karnal

 

 

II

In the Kesavananda Bharati case, out of 13 Judges of the Supreme Court, a majority of 7:6 ruled that “Article 368 does not enable Parliament to alter the basic structure of the Constitution”. Justice Sikri had characteried the basic structural features as follows: Supremacy of the Constitution, separation of powers, republican and democratic form of government, secular character of the Constitution, and federal character of the Constitution. The legislation in question should be declared null and void as it violates the basic structure of the Constitution.

Members of the Rajya Sabha are indirected elected by MLAs and represent the states. The framers of the Constitution had not erred while making a distinction between the two Houses of Parliament—State character for the Rajya Sabha (domicile of the concerned state mandatory) and an all-India character for the Lok Sabha (to be elected directly by people). Consequently, the framers had clearly differentiated the members of both Houses of Parliament.

Changing the basic structure of Parliament amounts to changing the Constitution. Clearly, this is beyond the powers of Parliament.

OM PARKASH WADHWA, Head, Public Admn., Govt College, Gohana

III

When the domicile clause in question was amended, political parties joined hands for their selfish motives. They reduced the Rajya Sabha’s status to that of a dumping ground for partisan ends rather than treating it in a manner as desired by the founding fathers of the Constitution. A candidate contesting for the Rajya Sabha must primarily be a resident of the state from which he/she wants to get elected. The Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha have their distinct functions to perform. By one stroke, the federal character of the Upper House has been changed, negating its federal character.

The Supreme Court may strike it down as null and void. Following the amendment, anyone from any state can get elected to the Rajya Sabha. The Upper House is meant to safeguard the interests of the states. If a Rajya Sabha MP is a resident of some other state, he may not have a proper understanding of the basic problems, what to talk of his commitment for the state from where he/she got elected.

In India, it is the Constitution and not Parliament which is supreme. Parliament is only a creature of the Constitution. It derives its powers from the provisions of the Constitution including the power to amend the Constitution Under Article 368. Laws passed by Parliament can be declared ultra vires if they violate the basic structure of the Constitution. Consequently, Parliament cannot exercise the amending power under Article 368 in a way as to damage the Constitution to which it owes its existence as also derive its power.

GURDERSHAN SINGH, Chandigarh

IV

The amendment to the Representation of the People Act negates the purpose for which the Rajya Sabha was established. Political parties have been using this House as a “dumping ground” for their leaders who have either lost the elections or are close to the central leadership of the party. They have no practical link with the state from which they are elected. As a result, they are unaware of the issues and problems of the state they represent.

Parliament, while framing or amending laws, should keep public interest in mind. The legislation in question should be declared as null and void by the Supreme Court to uphold the nature and spirit of the Rajya Sabha.

Both Parliament and the Supreme Court are parts of the system. The people are supreme. The power to amend the Constitution has been given to the MPs by the people and neither of them is superior to one another. They should work with impeccable honesty, sincerity and honesty and should not let such amendments or laws come into force in future.

DEEPKARAN SINGH, Chandigarh

V

I do not think that by dispensing with the domicile requirement for the Rajya Sabha members, Parliament has changed the basic structure of the Constitution. All political parties have followed the domicile rule more in its breach than in practice to induct senior, talented or even unsuccessful Lok Sabha candidates into the Rajya Sabha.

Secondly, there is no reason why a person who does not reside within the territorial boundaries of the state cannot comprehensively and sensitively represent its concern in the Rajya Sabha or the Council of States. Aren’t the notions of representation that fall back upon the dividing lines between the “residents” and the “non-residents” obsolete?

K.M. VASHISHT, New Delhi

Politics at its lowest ebb

Once again our leaders are playing politics for narrow partisan ends. The Railway Minister’s announcement of a probe on the burning of a train coach in Godhra reflects low level politics. Godhara and Best Bakery, attacks on Parliament and shrines, killings of the Staines family, are all indicative of a serious communal malaise. But which party and followers of divine faiths can claim to be innocent?

I suggest a National Commission of Reconciliation and Forgiveness be constituted. The practitioners of hate and violence, of all colours and creed, should be brought before the commission to confess and ask for forgiveness from those whom they hurt. The guilty should be asked to serve the victims’ family and/or community.

Dhirendra Sharma, Dehra Dun


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