M A I N   N E W S

Somnath for right to recall
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today strongly came out in support of the electorate’s “right to recall elected representatives who ignore the interests of the people and are guilty of malfeasance and improper conduct or indulge in corrupt or criminal activities.”

Inaugurating the 73rd Conference of the Presiding Officers of Legislative Bodies in India at the Haryana Vidhan Sabha here, Chatterjee categorically stated that if a member was found to be insensitive, incompetent, corrupt and indifferent to the problems of the people, his duties or indulged in activities or behaved in a manner unbecoming of a people’s representative, his constituents should be in a position to demand his recall before the expiry of his term.

The three-day conference, being hosted by Haryana for the first time, has a three-point agenda before it-time management in the house and code of conduct for members; need to strengthen public faith in democratic institutions; and terrorism-a threat to national unity: role of legislatures.

Chatterjee, known for never mincing words when it comes to the functioning of democratic institutions, reminded the legislators that they should be role models both inside and outside the House and they should always remember that they enjoyed privileges to enable them to discharge their responsibilities without any fear or hindrance. He regretted that there was a growing sense of disillusionment and despair among a large section of people because of the manner of functioning of the elected representatives. “The crisis of public faith is not so much with respect to democratic institutions, as it is with the manner of their functioning for which the people who work such institutions have the primary responsibility. The legislature has come in for public criticism because of the conduct of members inside the house, leading to frequent disruptions and the result inability of the house to transact business, wastage of time and public money.”

Chatterjee said if a party with substantial strength was bent on disrupting the proceedings, the presiding officer could do little to run the house or to regulate its proceedings.

In the same context, Chatterjee said the time had come to seriously consider the desirability of “Zero Hour”, which had turned out to be the most unruly period of the house proceedings. He said if “Zero Hour” was to be retained, its duration should be limited to 30 minutes.

Chatterjee said the presiding officers should not look on helplessly and allow the system to steadily degenerate, but take a proactive stand. Turning to terrorism, the Lok Sabha Speaker said it had vitiated the social and political environment by unleashing a tyranny over the minds of the people. The chief targets of the terrorists, he said, were open democratic societies.

While the nation was committed to taking all democratic and lawful steps to counter terrorism, including enactment of effective laws and fine-tuning the existing laws to the requirements of the situation, it was the duty of the legislatures to ensure that the laws enacted by them were not abused and the rights and liberties of the common people were not unduly encroached upon.



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