Ravi S Singh
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 16
A “Janata Parliament” organised by civil society groups and social activists commenced on Sunday, with former Chief Justice of Delhi AP Shah (retired) hitting out at the present Union government for allegedly weakening the institutions of democracy, including Parliament.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the Janata Parliament, Justice Shah expressed concern at the lack of legislative scrutiny of government’s decisions and policies taken during the period of national lockdown.
He lamented that Parliament has not been convened yet after the last Budget Session was truncated and adjourned sine die in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though other countries made changes in procedure to hold virtual sessions of their top legislative organs in keeping with social distancing norms.
COVID-19 was being used by the government as an excuse to evade questioning and accountability, he said.
He said affairs of Jammu and Kashmir, among others, needed to be discussed in Parliament.
He said this in the context of delay in convening of Monsoon Session of Parliament.
He alleged that the present regime at the Centre was stifling dissent.
The democratic institutions and other organs, including the Judiciary and the Fourth Estate have failed to live up to the expectations.
“Executive’s accountability is a thing of memory,” Justice Shah said.
Among others, converting a Bill of general nature into a “Money Bill” (during the tenure of preceding government) to evade scrutiny of the Rajya Saba was cited by him as a case in point of the government’s act of evading accountability.
Aruna Roy, who was Member of the National Advisory Committee headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi during Manmohan Singh-led UPA government, said the six-day Janata Parliament will deliberate on 10 themes.
A number of the organisers of the Janata Parliament are known for their opposition to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
They said the event was being organised to fill in the void of legislative scrutiny of government’s decision taken during the lockdown period.
Among the other speakers at the inaugural session, sitting Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani alleged that the BJP government in the state and at the Centre were not convening the Sessions of the Assembly and Parliament deliberately.
Former Member of Planning Commission Sayeeda Hameed alleged that the present Union government was pursuing a communal agenda.
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