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Report No. 170

7.1.3 Second Measure.-

Another measure which can be thought of to introduce stability in governance is to amend Rule 198 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha. But before we set out the proposed amendment, it is necessary to notice the relevant context. In a parliamentary form of government, the government has no fixed term. Though its term is co-terminus with the life of the House, it can be defeated or it may fall, on many counts. For example, a defeat on a money bill or a cut motion will, according to conventions established in U.K. and followed in this country would oblige the government to resign.

It is indeed a case of rendering accountability on a daily basis. At any time, the opposition can bring a no-confidence motion and if it is approved by the House, the government has to resign. In view of what has happened at the Centre in 1979, 1990 and in the recent years, it should make us all think of ways to avoid repetition of such situations. In 1999, in particular, the government was defeated on the 'confidence motion' moved by the government but no alternate government could be formed, making a general election inevitable within a span of 13 months.

It has made us hold parliamentary elections almost every year. It is neither good for the country nor for the political parties. The governance and economy are the first casualties of such a transfiguration. There is a danger that such situations may lead to public disenchantment with the parliamentary form of government. There are already strident voices for changing over to a presidential form of government. We are, however, not going into the question whether a presidential form of government should be introduced by making the necessary changes in the Constitution.

We are thinking of solutions within the existing constitutional system, though as we shall indicate presently, it does mean abandoning some of the conventions governing the parliamentary form of government and which are being followed in this country too till now. We must clarify that the proposed amendment to the aforementioned Lok Sabha Rules does not violate any of the constitutional provisions, but it certainly means modification of certain conventions developed in U.K. and followed in our country since 1950. Article 67 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany lays down:-

"Article 67 (constructive vote of no confidence):-The Bundestag may express its lack of confidence in the Federal Chancellor only by electing a successor with the majority of its Members and requesting the Federal President to dismiss the incumbent. The Federal President must comply with the request and appoint the person elected.

(2) Forty-eight hours must elapse between the motion and the vote."

This provision has the objective of ensuring a stable government. In his article in the Hindustan Times dated 13.5.99, page 13, Shri Pran Chopra suggested a few electoral reforms. The first reform he has advocated is the innovation of simultaneous votes of no-confidence in the incumbent and confidence in the alternative. It would eliminate the need for a mid-term poll. He has opined:-

"That a government should seek a vote of confidence is an innovation, but justified by the very circumstances in which that government came into being, on the basis of written commitments of support, and the written withdrawal of one of them. But the proposed innovation of simultaneous votes of no-confidence in the incumbent and confidence in the alternative would be much safer.

It would eliminate the need for a mid-term poll. It would also be more democratic, because it would shift the process of finding an alternative to the place where the process belongs, namely Lok Sabha. It would also restore to the President, in its fullness, his truer and greater function of being the trusted counsellor of the government, with the trust unimpaired by how the successor Prime Minister might have been chosen." As a matter of fact, similar suggestion has been put forward by several other eminent public figures for ensuring stability of the governments and to avoid mid-term polls before expiry of term of the House.

Reform of The Electoral Laws Back

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