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A parliamentary democracy or an executive democracy

  • Published
    1st Jun, 2023
Context

Recently, the new Parliament was sworn in. In this scenario, the fundamental design of the Indian Constitution allows for the marginalisation of Parliament and the concentration of power in the hands of the dominating executive.

About

What are the Parliament's governing principles?

  • The marginalisation of Parliament and the concentration of power in the hands of a powerful executive are made possible and encouraged by the Indian Constitution.
  • Think about the different measures parliamentary democracies often adopt to prevent executive dominance or misuse
  • In Parliament, the executive must hold a majority. This creates a room for disagreement inside the party and gives ruling party legislators who are not in the cabinet a crucial role in exercising a check on the executive.
  • The Speaker, a neutral and impartial body, is supposed to represent the interests of Parliament against the executive. 
  • Some parliamentary democracies practise bicameralism, which refers to the existence of a second "Upper House" that serves as a revising chamber and represents interests other than the brute majority's (in our case, the Rajya Sabha, which serves as a council of states).

Which of the features has been diluted or erased over the years in India?

  • Increase in intra-party disagreement: The potential of intra-party disagreement within Parliament has been eliminated by the Constitution's Tenth Schedule, colloquially known as the "anti-defection law."
    • Ironically, as recent events have plainly proven, the Tenth Schedule has failed to achieve its intended goal of curbing horse-trading and unprincipled floor-crossing.
    • When the price is disqualification from Parliament, intra-party disagreement becomes significantly more difficult.

Need of Anti-Defection Law: The Tenth Schedule, enacted as a constitutional amendment in 1985, punishes disobedience of the party whip with expulsion from the House.

  • Control of the executive on proceedings: The manner of proceedings in Parliament is under the complete control of the executive, with no real constitutional checks upon how that control is exercised.
  • Role of acting speaker: Speakers acting in a blatantly partisan manner in order to advance the interests of the executive over the interests of the House.
Concerns
  • Speaker’s misclassification of Bills: When the executive wants to bypass the Upper House.
  • The anti-defection law wipes out intra-party dissent. 
  • The political Opposition’s scope for participation depends upon the discretion of the executive
  • Partisan Speakers further ensure that the executive is insulated from public embarrassment at the hands of the Opposition, by controlling the debate. 
  • Bypass the role of Upper House: In matter of Money Bills or the use of ordinance power.
  • The quality of parliamentary deliberations has declined.
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