The great Indian abdication
1. Nissim Mannathukkaren, in his article has discussed about the deepening crisis in society due to lack of vital role played by Parliament and its contribution.
2. Author argues, India, at present is going through a deep crisis in which, instead of parliament/legislature, the Judiciary is working on the mission to deepen the democracy and protecting social freedoms.
3. Supreme Court in last month has announced series of verdict such as on triple talaq, Section 377, adultery, and the Sabarimala temple etc. but the same curiosity or spirit is missing about parliamentary bills/debates, which are absolutely vital to a parliamentary democracy.
4. For instance, earlier this year, the government amended the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act without discussion in Parliament and hardly any debate in the public sphere took place.
5. It is being said, degradation in roles of legislature and executive has pulled the Supreme Court to assume the responsibility of Parliamentary democracy.
6. Criticism over Parliamentary Functioning:
- The Prime Minister rarely attends parliamentary debates, affecting the sanctity of the forum.
- In 1950, Lok Sabha met for an average of 127 days and in 2017 met for a shocking 57 only.
- If 72 Bills were passed in a year in the first Lok Sabha, the number was 40 in the 15th Lok Sabha (2009-14).
- The Budget session for this fiscal year saw a scarcely believable usage of 1% of its allotted time in the Lok Sabha and bill was passed without discussion through the guillotine process.
- Parliament has even failed to institute Joint Parliamentary Committee to look into the Rafael fighter aircraft deal issue.
7. It has been argued the task of democratizing society cannot be left to the judiciary, an unelected body.
8. Parliament, instead of representing the highest democratic ethos, panders to electoral majorities, leaving it incapable of challenging barbaric social/religious practices enforced by dominant interests.
9. That is why it took 70 years for Section 377 to be partially struck down.
10. Concern over the State of Judiciary:
- Judiciary does not exist in a vacuum; it is still a reflection of our society.
- Facing Serious lack of diversity and representation for instance, in 1993, it is estimated that less than 4% of judges in the higher judiciary were from Dalit and tribal communities, and less than 3% were women
- Since Independence, only four Dalits have become Supreme Court judges, including one Chief Justice of India
- After 42 years, first women were appointed as a judge of SC of Supreme Court and only Eight women so far have been appointed.
Mammoth 3.3 crore pending cases.
- 67% of India’s prison population awaits trial; 55% of these under trials are Dalits, tribal, and Muslims.
11. Question raised by the Author over the efficiency of Judiciary:
- How far the judiciary be held entertaining and delivering verdicts on Public Interest Litigations (PILs) for instance, a ban on pornography or making the national anthem mandatory in cinema halls.
- Overworked courts cannot become a one-stop solution for performing legislative/executive tasks such as banning fire crackers/loud speakers, enforcing seat belt/helmet wearing rules etc.
12. Politically-motivated lynching targeting a community do not happen because of the absence of laws. They happen because of a willful undermining the power of laws by the executive backed by mobs riding on electoral majorities.