- Both pomp and controversy surrounded the inauguration of the new Parliament building.
- The event focused attention to the exclusion of the Indian President and included historically significant symbolic actions, but it also raised awareness of a bigger problem: the declining importance of Parliament in India’s parliamentary democracy.
GS Paper2: Indian constitution and Parliamentary Democracy
The importance of Parliament as a democratic institution has decreased as a result of the shift towards executive supremacy in India’s parliamentary democracy. Explain the causes of this change in detail. Make recommendations for how to rebalance the executive’s and Parliament’s power. (250 Words)
Political democracy is defined as what?
- A parliamentary democracy is a form of democratic government in which the accountability of the executive to the legislature, usually a parliament, is based on its capacity to command that body’s support.
- In contrast, in a presidential system, the executive branch does not receive its democratic legitimacy from the legislative and the head of state frequently doubles as the head of government.
Constitutional Protections in Parliamentary Democracies:
- Parliamentary democracies have a number of constitutional protections in place to stop the abuse or monopolisation of executive power. The rights and interests of the populace are safeguarded by these measures, which also guarantee a system of checks and balances.
- Parliamentary Majority Requirement
- This makes sure that the government may only enact laws and policies with the support of the majority of elected officials. It serves as a check on unilateral decision-making and promotes communication and reaching of agreements across different political groups.
- Intra-Party Dissent
- It gives members of the ruling party a platform to express their worries, disputes, and alternative points of view. This promotes constructive discussion, promotes accountability, and guarantees that choices are not only influenced by the executive’s agenda.
- Rights of the Opposition
- A strong parliamentary democracy depends on the Opposition having rights. Holding the administration responsible, scrutinising policies, and offering alternative viewpoints are crucial functions performed by the opposition.
- Unbiased Speaker
- A unbiased Speaker is necessary to provide fair proceedings and preserve the dignity of legislative debates. The Speaker serves as a fair arbitrator, upholding parliamentary norms and defending everyone’s rights. The Speaker guarantees that all viewpoints are recognised and heard by impartially moderating debates and discussions.
- Bicameralism with an Upper House
- The Upper House serves as a revising chamber and frequently represents a variety of interests or geographical considerations. It examines proposed legislation from the executive branch and adds another level of review to stop rash judgement or potential misuse of power.
Dilution of Protections in India:
- Unfortunately, these protections have been lessened or ignored in India throughout time, which has resulted in Parliament’s marginalisation.
- Anti-Defection Law:
- The Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution, also referred to as the “anti-defection law,” forbids party members from disobeying the party whip, hence discouraging intra-party dissent. By unintentionally tightening the party leadership’s grip on lawmakers, this law has stifled opposition voices within the ruling party.
- Lack of Opposition Space:
- Unlike other parliamentary democracies, the Indian Constitution does not give the political opposition a dedicated forum to directly challenge the executive or exert significant influence over legislative operations. As a result, the administration continues to have complete influence over how Parliament operates.
- Partisan Speaker:
- In India’s system, the Speaker is not required by the constitution to be unbiased or to renounce their party allegiance. As a result, partisan Speakers are increasingly supporting the interests of the government above those of the House, which has a negative impact on the standard of debate and undermines the function of the Lok Sabha.
- Undermining the Upper House:
- The misclassification of bills as “money bills” and the executive’s excessive use of the authority to make ordinances both lessen the Upper House’s influence. Ordinances, which are meant to be utilised in emergency situations while Parliament is not in session, are frequently employed as a parallel legislative process, avoiding the Upper House’s review.
Executive Dominance and Parliament’s Marginalization:
- These elements have combined to create a scenario where the executive has significant authority and Parliament has few effective checks on it.
- Intra-Party Dissent: When there is just one, majority-governing party, the anti-defection statute stifles dissent inside the ruling party. Due to the concentration of authority, Parliament will no longer be able to challenge executive decisions.
- Control of the opposition: Because the opposition’s participation is subject to executive discretion, the ruling party is able to steer parliamentary discussions and avoid embarrassing the public.
- Effect on Deliberations: As a result, parliamentary discussions have been negatively impacted, indicating the marginalisation of Parliament. With no accompanying checks and balances, the concentration of executive power resembles a presidential system.
- It is critical to analyse if India can still be regarded as a parliamentary democracy or if it has progressively evolved into an executive democracy as it celebrates the installation of its new Parliament.
- Constitutional amendments and reforms that address the weakening of protections and realign the balance of power between the government and Parliament are necessary to restore the essence of parliamentarianism.