Democracy – The Victim of Pandemic


Since, 26th January 1950, our nation is a Republic governed by the constitutional provisions.  We have adopted Parliamentary System for the governance which has Legislature, Executive and Judiciary as its three organs shouldered with different roles and responsibilities.  Day-to-day administration is the subject matter of the executive that is answerable to the Parliament.  Our Constitution is having three Tier- Central Government, State Government and Local Self Government (Panchayat Raj).

The issue which system of governance would be best suited for the Indian perspective was debated at length in the Constituent Assembly and finally, Parliamentary System was adopted. Spirit of Democracy is the participation of people in the decision-making process.

As rightly defined by Abraham Lincoln, ‘Democracy’ is the Government of the people, by the people, for the people.  In our constitutional democracy at all the three levels i.e. Parliament, State Legislature as well as at Local Level it may be Municipal Corporation, Municipal Council, Zilla Parishad, Panchayat Samiti or Village Panchayat we have elected representatives.

The elected representatives at each level are provided because in view of the Founding Fathers of our Constitution it is the representative of the people who by experience have knowledge of problems that are faced by the citizens of India and would be able to provide solutions.  It is expected that all the problems are discussed by these elected representatives in their respective Forums and the Laws, policies are framed in the interest of common man.

Today, the Nation is facing unprecedented Pandemic that has adversely affected every aspect of the lives of the citizens.  For almost three months the entire country was under Lockdown, still, it is not completely open, the condition of the economy is not good, Educational Institutions are not functioning, the Universities are not able to make a decision about Examinations and date of re-opening, the citizens are worried whether we have sufficient Medical facilities available to face the Pandemic and there is an utter sense of uncertainty.

The other challenge to the nation is coming from the Dragon in the neighbourhood.  A war-like the situation is being created by mischievous China on the Border that has already claimed several lives of our brave Soldiers.

The situation is of an Emergency for the entire country and the citizens are looking towards their representatives for some solace and confidence.  Unfortunately and surprisingly neither Special Session of Parliament is called to discuss the problem and to work out solution neither the State Legislatures in any State have come together.  It would have been better, if, Hon’ble Members from all the Political Parties would have come together as a Nation and discussed the issue in Parliament.  Even, the Local Self Governments are not functioning as per the mandates of their respective laws that require regular Meetings though are shouldered with the duty of taking care of health and sanitation.

It seems the decision making process is being delegated to the subordinate Executive(Officers) who are neither elected nor answerable to the people as the elected Representatives are.  This situation is neither constitutional nor legal but contrary to the basic spirit of democracy and would lead to Anarchy in the absence of any accountability towards the public. The Elected Representative needs to face the electorate every 5 years and can be punished for non-performance. But the Officers need not undergo any such test if they fail in their duties can be transferred or made to face some departmental inquiry without the participation of the general public.

The importance of having a discussion on the Floor of the pious Houses of Democracy is that all it goes into the Official record, performance of the Representatives can be judged by the citizens and transparency in the affairs can be achieved.  In absence of any such discussion, an apprehension is created in the minds of the public that the Government is hiding something from them that further may result in distrust and unrest.

In the early British period, we were Governed by East India Company and later by the British crown though it’s Officers. We have earned our Independence from this Officer Raj after a long drawn freedom struggle wherein millions of Indians have sacrificed their lives.  It took considerable period and efforts to have Democratic Government, but because of our failure to follow the constitutional mandate and work democratically, we are causing an apprehension of giving away this democracy in favour of the Executive.  That will have a far-reaching ill-effects, some citizens may think that after this experience we may not need the elected Representatives and the Government can be run by the Officers and Administrators to whom we call Public Servants.  Sadly, this would be the beginning of enslavement once again.

Dr B. R. Ambedkar while addressing the Constituent Assembly on the working of the constitutional setup of governance said that: “No constitutional Government can function in any country unless any particular constitutional authority remembers the fact that its authority is limited by the Constitution and that if there is any authority created by the Constitution which has to decide between that particular authority and any other authority, then the decision of that authority shall be binding upon any other organ.  That is the sanction which this Constitution gives in order to see that the President shall follow the advice of the Ministers, that the executive shall not exceed in its executive authority the law made by Parliament and that the executive shall not give its own interpretation of the law which is in conflict with the interpretation of the judicial organ created by the Constitution.”

If we want to protect constitutional democracy and morality it is high time for our elected Houses to take this wakeup call and assemble for the betterment of the country and its citizens, otherwise, the days are not far when they will become things of past.

By Advocate Firdos MirzaFirdos Mirza_The_Policy_Times

Practising Advocate, Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court