"I realise that some of my criticisms may be mistaken; but to refuse to criticize judgements for fear of being mistaken is to abandon criticism altogether... If any of my criticisms are found to be correct, the cause is served; and if any are found to be incorrect the very process of finding out my mistakes must lead to the discovery of the right reasons, or better reasons than I have been able to give, and the cause is served just as well."

-Mr. HM Seervai, Preface to the 1st ed., Constitutional Law of India.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Citizen's democracy

Democracy as a means of governance has many challenges to face from within and outside. India recently witnessed one such challenge to democracy from within, the anti-corruption movement; a struggle to determine whose will it is to be reflected in the laws of a democracy. A question whether representative democracy transfers the determinative powers away from the people. Or to put it in other words, in a democracy, who has the authorship of laws? The recent experience could be viewed in the background of this quest for authorship.

The milieu is undoubtedly a society at its wits' end with the incidents of corruption big and small, which affects them directly or indirectly. They do not need the index of Transparency International to know how corrupt the governance structure is. It is felt in their interface with any governmental agency. This does not mean that corruption is absent in the private domain. Corruption seems to permeate every human activity, be it an auto driver attempting to overcharge ten rupees to scams to the tune of crores.

None denies that measures need to be taken against the all pervading culture of corruption. Methods could be many and definitely law is one among them. Then the question is about the content of that law. There seems to be a disconnect about the text of the law between the stakeholders. The recent unrest has outlined stakeholders as if two; the civil society and the parliament. Interestingly either is a monolithic entity as it is projected. That aside, there seems to be another level of this disconnect, a justifiable skepticism about the political masters to be entrusted with the task of reigning themselves.

Different disciplines would have their own vantage points to analyse the issue. A legal analysis would take us to the questions of process of law making, legitimacy of external pressures on the legislatures, quality of the law enacted and the like. All these questions could be oriented to a single focus, how far people have a say in law making and if people are the real authors of law what recourse do they have when their representative disregard their claims.

To be continued...

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