Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 24
Abolition of Governor’s post, splitting the Supreme Court into constitutional and appellate courts and ensuring complete separation of religion from politics – these were some of the suggestions made by prominent intellectuals on Friday to rid the Indian polity of the malaise that afflict it.
During an online discussion on former Home Secretary Madhav Godbole’s latest book ‘India-A Federal Union of States: Fault Lines, Challenges and Opportunities’, former Vice President Hamid Ansari, former Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra, former Delhi High Court Chief Justice AP Shah, NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad Vice Chancellor Prof Faizan Mustafa and author Gurcharan Das passionately discussed the problems confronting India’s federal polity and attempted to offer possible solutions.
Outlining the fault lines, Godbole particularly expressed concern about mixing of religion and politics and hate speeches made by politicians. He wanted the Representation of People Act to include a provision to debar those mixing religion and politics.
Making a radical suggestion, he said the post of Governor should be abolished and the Supreme Court should be split into Constitutional and appellate courts, with the former having nine judges sitting together to decide constitutional issues alone.
Vohra—whose 1993 report as Home Secretary highlighted the problem of the criminalisation of politics and of the nexus between criminals, politicians and bureaucrats—raised the issue of criminalisation of politics and the rising number of tainted politicians in Parliament and state Assemblies. He expressed serious concern over corruption and lack of accountability undermining rule of law.
One of the institutions, which was ringing the bell, was the judiciary but unfortunately questions were being raised not only about the subordinate and high courts…but also about an office as high as that of the CJI. He also raised the issue of huge pendency of around 400 million cases in courts.
Emphasising the need for inner-party democracy, Vohra lamented that recommendations made by the Law Commission and Election Commission have not been implemented. He also expressed serious concern over the politicisation of administration from the level of ‘patwari’ to Chief Secretary.
Ansari raised concern over Islamophobia and violation of civil rights in Jammu and Kashmir after the nullification of Article 370 of the Constitution, while Justice Shah raised the issue of violation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir.
Prof Mustafa raised certain questions on some of the ideas enunciated in the book. He particularly took exception to Godbole terming the nullification of Article 370 as a “masterstroke” and advocated a federal system modeled on the US federalism.
Author Gurcharan Das cautioned against imposition of any language on a state and demanded that English should be given a place in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
The book analyses India’s journey as a federal polity with a multi-party democracy having its unique model in the last 70 years, with a greatly polarised polity.
It discusses Centre-state relations, dysfunctional Inter-State Council and GST and maintains that the future of India’s federalism will depend on the resolution of these issues. It also raises questions about the capacity, resources and the will to deal with national security issues.
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