Need to Curb Obstructionism

Necessity fosters change. To ensure smooth functioning of an institution, a regular assessment of the setbacks is required to enhance reformative changes. India has adopted the British Parliamentary System, but certain impediments mar the passage of several important legislations. Members of the Upper House of Parliament, i.e. Rajya Sabha, possess ‘Veto’ power that empowers them to delay the enactment of necessary and public spirited legislations. Such obstructionism directly questions the competence of the democratically elected members of the Lower House i.e. Lok Sabha. Many public-spirited citizens and parliamentarians have felt the need to curb such arbitrary powers, which are exercised to fulfil political ambitions that results in public distress. Before we further discuss on the issue, it is important to understand how such powers are resulting from obstructionist activities. Members of the Rajya Sabha are not directly elected representatives. Allotment of veto powers to such individuals directly questions the integrity of the Members of the Lokh Sabha. On many occasions, it has been witnessed that welfare legislations passed by the Lok Sabha whittles down the legislative business due to such obstructionism. Such powers are often exercised to serve extraneous purposes, which has a direct impact on the general public. Blockages caused due to its exercise is hampering the smooth process and jeopardising the ultimate welfare purposes of the parliament.

Curbing of veto powers has been dealt very dispassionately. This often creates chaotic governance. But, India being a democratic institution must further such reforms to overcome newly emerged hurdles. The Constitution of India possess the feature of being flexible, such empowers parliamentarians to introduce reformative changes. Many learned intellectuals have raised this issue on several occasions. Amongst the masses, a strong need is felt to abrogate ‘veto’ powers to provide a smooth passage of various constitutional amendments and key legislations. Recently, the Italian Parliament has taken a visionary step. Italy’s Upper House of Parliament and Senate, have voted to drastically reduce the powers of its own to reduce chaotic governance and to facilitate easy and transparent functioning of the House. Indian Parliamentarians are also required to take such a bold and selfless initiative to introduce key measures that help in nation building disregarding their own political gains. Often, on many instances, such powers are exercised to block key legislations only to gain political mileage. But, with intellectual transformation, many scholars have propounded for initiating parliamentary reforms. Chairman of the Upper House, Vice President Dr. Hamid Ansari, expressed his concern on attempts being made to whittle down legislative business. Biju Janta Dal MP Jay Panda, has also expressed his concern of removing such a provision that is affecting the business of the Parliament. Though, such reforms have not gained a common consensus, but various members of different political sections have expressed their concern. It seems to be quite difficult to bring all the political parties on the same footing, but it is appreciated that many have envisioned to bring a welcoming reform.

A democratic institution is based upon the ideals on checks and balances, and through regular assessment corrective steps are required to be taken. It is felt after the decade old debate that the time has come to bring reformative changes in the Parliament. Parliamentary reforms are focussed on safeguarding the public interest from any unrest and arbitrary provision in the Parliament. It cannot be denied that the powers of the Lower House must go unchecked, but it is also required to reduce the powers and functions of the Upper House, which jeopardises the dispensation of power of the democratically elected members of the Lower House.

Shreyan Acharya