Dimming constitutional spirit

Category looxpzzzcptm

first_imgTo get dragged into legalities of the LG-CM turf-war in Puducherry is pointless, as the conflicting views can be supported with contradictory legal judgements on the matter. Unfortunately for the LG, the recent clarification of the Madras High Court was both, unequivocal and embarrassing in observing that incessant interference in the administration of the state government, tantamount to ‘parallel government’. The unrelenting view from the Puducherry Raj Niwas, that the gubernatorial appointment in Puducherry afforded a more interventionist role was blunted, for now. The LG was quick to publically share a contradictory judgement on the social media, of a previous Chief Justice of the Madras High Court who had earlier adjudged that ‘Unlike the President of India or the Governor of a state, the Administrator of a Union Territory has powers to act independently, irrespective of the advice given by the Council of Minister headed by the Chief Minister’. Like Puducherry, Delhi, too, has been mired in the dissonance surrounding the LG-CM disaffections on the ‘limits’. The finality on the legalese of the matter notwithstanding, it is the diminishment of Constitutional spirit by the ostensible ‘conscience keeper’ of the Constitution in the Union Territory, that is the moot point in the prevailing discourse. Also Read – Hijacking Bapu’s legacyUnlike some other gubernatorial appointees who come from the fount of deeply ideological and partisan sensibilities – the incumbent LG of Puducherry is a distinguished member of the ‘Uniformed’ fraternity, who would be well versed with the governance imperatives of rectitude, restraint, and the uniquely service-related sensitivities of not ‘stepping-out-of-line’. However, such expectations militate against the reality of instances like the LG stopping two-wheelers on the roads of Puducherry, and asking them to wear helmets. As a former cop and one-time head of traffic police in Delhi, surely the LG would be expected to have a natural proclivity and gravitation towards road-safety matters, however the backdrop of such-like ‘interferences’ had led to an unprecedented protest by the Puducherry Chief Minister and his cabinet outside the Raj Niwas, which lasted nearly a week. The immense administrative experience, knowledge, and wisdom acquired over years of administrative service herself, is expected to be imparted in a more dignified, inclusive and far-impacting way, than perhaps by policing herself. In the short run, such actions of ‘public activism’ do impress the masses who have their own justifiable angst against the perceived ineptitude of the political classes and the administration. However, beyond the optics and symbolism of ‘rolling up the sleeves’, very little is achieved on the ground. On the contrary, the opportunity to make fundamental and systemic changes are lost in the petty battle of whataboutery one-upmanship, that can be avoided, whilst still achieving a lot more than pulling up a few irresponsible motorists. Also Read – The future is here!The Puducherry LG has contextualised her activism with her disdain for the ‘rubber-stamp’ appointees, and to that extent, she has a point as Raj Bhawans have increasingly acquired a notoriety as ‘old age home’s’ for pliant and loyal geriatrics, who are not adjustable in the Central Government. However, the full import of ‘rubber-stamp’ is not just in implied inaction or disinterest – it also manifests in the equally dangerous manner if not more, when the ostensible ‘rubber-stamp’ appointees toe a blatantly partisan line, ignoring his or her appointment to the constitutional chair on account of swearing by the Constitution, and not to a political party or obligation. A certain degree of apprehension owing to the difference in political parties of the state government and that of the LG-appointing Central government, is natural. As also, the tendency of the state political classes to get emotive and voluble given their partisan instincts in the State capitals – however, the onus of maintaining sobriety in public discourse is loaded onto the gubernatorial appointee, who is expected to be the ‘bigger person’ as the apolitical custodian of constitutionality. The current diatribe in Puducherry suggests a fight for supremacy, not amongst the constitutionally mandated unequal’s, but perhaps amongst the politically driven, equals. Mainstreaming issues on social media and picking up the cudgels oneself is also suggestive of the futility of the constitutionally mandated recourses available to the LG like reporting the concerns to the President of India, or even the Home Ministry for administrative issues. Such bypass assumes the incapacity or dereliction of these high chairs to get the requisite course-corrections suggested by the LG, other than by challenging the delicately posited federal structure and spirit of the constitution, that insists on the ‘voice’ of the masses through its elected representatives. The intrinsic spirit of democracy and the Indian Constitution bestows the responsibility of governance through the elected representatives (with the public empowerment to change dispensations, with the subsequent elections) – whilst bestowing the ‘moral’ supremacy onto the ‘conscience-keepers’ to exercise their powers with morality and sensitivity, in deference to the democratic traditions. Great constitutionalists and preservers of our democratic impulses like Presidents KR Narayanan and APJ Abdul Kalam were able to bear moral pressure on the governance and politics of the day by actions like ‘returning the files for reconsideration’. Away from media glare, these giants of constitutionalism worked silently behind the scenes and ensured that the dispensation of day, stayed the course of India’s constitutional obligations. Though these constitutionalists were appointed through a process of political majority – and sometimes these individuals erred in their decision-making, but no one could ever imply any partisanship or unwarranted ‘activism’ onto these two individuals, in their constitutional conduct. These men meaningfully reversed the notions of ‘rubber stamp’ ascribed on Rashtrapatis, without taking recourse to public-spats, accusations and lowering of decorum. Constitutional institutions, appointees and the overall spirit of the Indian constitution are coming under increasing strain – this leads to the frequent questioning of the essence, letter, and definition of ‘India’. Herein, the opportunity to exemplify the lofty spirit of our constitutionalism, federalism, and our civilisational truth of civility and wisdom, especially when you have an imminently qualified and well-versed LG like in Puducherry, is a lost opportunity for the Union Territory, and for others to emulate. Lt General Bhopinder Singh (Retd) is a former Lt Governor of Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The views expressed are strictly personallast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *