A lot of new laws are being legislated by the Central Government/ State Government and new policy decisions are being taken by them, which affect & influence the common man. The Government pleads that the legislation is assented by the elected members of the Parliament/ Legislative Assembly and there is no need & legal requirement for the public to intervene or influence the legislative process. The Government maintains that the 3 functionaries of the Government have independent role to play and the common man only has a valuable right to choose their elected representatives and have no right or option to be a part of the legislative process.
The fact remains that the Government is always unwilling to share the proposed legislation with its own members of the parliament/ legislative assembly. They are only required to be present in the House and clap for the Government & vote for the Bill. None of the members of the ruling party utters a word against the Bill or gives suggestions. Perhaps they cannot take the wrath of their party by speaking against the Bill or giving their own suggestions. They have never exercised their Right to ‘Dissent’ with the contents of the Bill. When the MPs & MLAs do not have right in the Legislative process, how can an ordinary Common Man have right for the same?
It is common knowledge that whenever the public views, comments & suggestions are called for from the general public in respect of any new legislation, they are never given a thoughtful consideration but a mere Formality is completed for the sake of publicity & image building. Recently, suggestions were invited for a new state legislation, for which model Act had been sent by the Central Government, in which all suggestions were dumped and finally put in Bin. The same is the story of suggestions often given to the ‘Select Committee’ of the Parliament. The Budget suggestions are also seldom implemented.
It is trite to mention that recently, a writ petition has been filed in the Apex Court praying the Court to direct the governments to ensure implementation of Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy so as to enable wider public discussion and feedback on the new Legislations & Public Policies. It was also brought to the notice of the Court that the Government of India had conceived of a Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy in 2014 which was made mandatory for the Ministry or Department concerned. It was also pleaded in the Court that the Court should direct the Government to publish Draft Legislations prominently on government websites and in the public domain, in all regional languages, at least 60 days before introducing in the Parliament and State Assemblies. It was also pleaded that brief justification for such legislation, essential elements of proposed legislation, its broad financial implications, and an estimated assessment of it’s impact on environment, fundamental rights, lives and livelihoods of the concerned/affected people should be kept in the public domain for a minimum period of thirty days for being proactively shared with the public in such manner as may be specified by the Department/Ministry concerned. In the said petition, it is also pleaded that it is not appropriate for the Central & State Governments to abruptly pass laws overnight without proper legislative debates and without desired consultation from the affected people/stakeholders.
It is worthwhile that the 3 Agricultural Acts have been hastily passed in the Parliament and have become the law of the land. The apathy of the ruling party legislators and the bycott by the opposition parties resulted in safe passage of the Bills without any fruitful discussions. The result is that the opposition parties have misguided the farmers, who were not taken into confidence by the ruling party, and they have been protesting vehemently against the three Acts for long. Had there been healthy discussions with the farmers prior to introduction of these Bills and the Government had elucidated the advantages & necessity of the said Bills, such a confrontation could have been easily avoided.
It cannot be refuted that the outlook and the observations of the stakeholders are indispensable for the success of democracy and in consonance with Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. This will transform the World’s Largest Democracy into Real ‘Rule of the People’, unparalleled in the history of mankind.