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The Mother India

  A Home page to achieve Electoral reforms, true democracy & citizens sovereignty in India


From: "Lok Satta" <>
To: "Tirumala Srinivas" <>
Subject: options - 4th August
Date: Sun, 4 Aug 2002 11:12:06 +0530

Dear friends,

Sadly, again but unsurprisingly, once again the political parties have failed the nation. We can evolve a clear strategy only after the revised draft Bill is out. But even now it seems clear that there will be no disclosures of assets and liabilities, and section 4 barring more disclosures will remain.

The following seem to be the options:

1) If the fundamental right of citizens to know about candidates is sought to be curtailed by law, as this Bill does, then the president may have jurisdiction to act in one of the following ways:

a) Under Art 111, he can withhold ascent to the Bill, and return it to the both Houses of Parliament with a message requesting them to delete section 4 (or its equivalent provision in the revised Bill). This can happen only on unassailable constitutional grounds. Our legal team needs to prepare a brief to be submitted to the President, the moment the Bill is passed by Parliament. I understand that the President has been privately briefed on the matter. We will finalise the memorandum to be submitted to the President. Already Gen. Saighal is on the job. We can prepare a final version by 6th August and collect endorsements.

While this course is possible, we should recognise that the chances of this happening are still remote. In our Constitutional scheme of things it will be extremely hard for a President to return a Bill when all parties are in favour of it.

b) The President can invoke his power under Art 143 and refer the matter to Supreme Court for consultation. In this case there is a direct conflict between Supreme Court's interpretation of Art 19, and the legislation sought to be approved by Parliament. Therefore this seems to be a fit case for invoking Art 143. Again a legal brief is required to be submitted to enable the President to arrive at a decision.

2. If the Bill does become law, then we should challenge its constitutional validity before Supreme Court.

3. All of us should reflect and decide whether this occasion and issue demand a far more vigorous response from civil society. For instance, can a dozen leading citizens and activists go on a week's fast in Delhi demanding full disclosure and other specific electoral reforms? What are the pros and cons of such an action at this stage? Has the moment arrived for mass mobilization?

4. Meanwhile we should sensitize the media on the issue, and seek their continued focus on electoral reforms, and their support in mobilizing public opinion.

5. All civil society groups with grassroots support need to gear their membership for mass action in two ways:
a) Massive public education on the issue of disclosures and electoral reform.

b) Preparing people for a real mass mobilization in case we all decide in favour of item (3) above.

These seem to be some of the practical courses open to us. This is a somewhat disappointing development, but there is no cause for despair. Let us brave ourselves for a fierce and protracted struggle. The unity of parties is an indication of their weakness in insecurity and seize mentality, not their strength or legitimacy. We can, and shall, prevail. Meanwhile we should make many preparations for an effective mass action.

I look forward to your considered responses before we take stock of the situation and decide on a specific course of action.

With warm regards,

Jayaprakash Narayan
National Coordinator

lok Satta
401/408, Nirmal Towers
Dwarakapuri Colony, Punjagutta
Hyderabad - 500 082
Fax: 91-040-3350783


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