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President Returns the Ordinance


From: "LokSatta" <>
To: "Tirumala Srinivas" <>
Subject: President Returns the Ordinance
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2002 16:48:52 +0530

August 23rd, 2002

Dear Friends,

Today’s newspapers carried the news that the President returned the Ordinance on disclosure norms to the Council of Ministers for certain clarifications and reconsideration. This is obviously a positive development. This is only the second time in our history that the President referred any issue for the reconsideration of the cabinet. Once before, President Narayanan asked the cabinet to reconsider the advice to impose President’s rule in Bihar. The government then resiled from its position, and the proposal was not reiterated. This is only the first time when an Ordinance/law has been returned by the President. We all should be grateful to President Kalam for his exceptional diligence, constitutionalism, courage, and statesmanship.

But the battle is not over. There is every likelihood that the union cabinet may again insist on the President approving the Ordinance. In that case, the President has only two options. First, under Art 74, we will have to approve a proposal reiterated by the Council of Ministers. Second, since the Ordinance is clearly violative of fundamental rights, and therefore is contrary to Article 13 of the Constitution, the President can refer the matter to the Supreme Court under Art 143. This is the appeal we made to the President. Let us do everything to mobilize public opinion in favour of a reference to Supreme Court. The President acted with wisdom and courage in referring the matter back to union government. Since he alerted the government of his concerns, the onus is now on the government to heed his advice and drop the proposal to promulgate the Ordinance. If, however, the government adopts the unwise, and short-sighted course to again recommend to President promulgation of the Ordinance severely curtailing the rights guaranteed under Article 19 (1), the President would then be constitutionally correct in referring the matter to the Supreme Court for its opinion under Art 143. We must do everything possible to make that happen.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader Mrs. Sonia Gandhi reiterated her position in support of full disclosures as per Supreme Court judgment. The letter received from her office is enclosed
. We should now persuade the Congress and other parties to formally write to the President opposing the promulgation of the Ordinance.

If the Ordinance is promulgated in its current form, we then have to resort to two actions:

We will challenge before Supreme Court its constitutional validity, particularly the incorporation of Section 33A, which imposes unreasonable and arbitrary restrictions on the voters’ fundamental right to information guaranteed under Art 19(1).
We will mobilize public opinion all over the country against this arbitrary curtailment of citizens’ liberties, and in favour of full disclosures and electoral reforms. We will resort to the steps discussed in the communication sent to all activists and citizens on August 5th.
We hope the Ordinance will not be promulgated. Even if it is promulgated despite the President cautioning the government, then it will only provide us an opportunity to mobilize the public against this grotesque and self-serving approach, and in favour of comprehensive electoral reforms, including full disclosure of all relevant details by candidates seeking public office. These developments so far fully vindicate our stand and strengthen our resolve. This is a long and hard struggle. But we shall prevail, because the cause is just, the people see the issue clearly and the time is ripe. Rarely do we have such an opportunity to fight on the side of truth. This fight, we shall win. And the hurdles enroute only help us enlarge the battle field and achieve comprehensive electoral reforms.

With warm regards
Jayaprakash Narayan
National Coordinator
Lok Satta
401/408 Nirmal Towers
Dwarakapuri Colony, Punjagutta
Hyderabad - 500 082
Tel: 040 3350778/3350790
Fax: 040 3350783


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