Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rajeev Dhavan's Nine-Point Legal Agenda for New Government



Rajeev Dhavan, in this article in Mail Today, outlines a nine-point legal agenda for the new Government. Each of these points will require elaboration; Dhavan has compressed them in order to provide a summary, a kind of ready reckoner. Starting with party democracy, he compliments Rahul Gandhi for attempting a genuine mobilisation of youth. How can the EC's requirements on party democracy be strictly enforced? He has no answers. Secondly, he refers to Justice Ravi Dhavan's solution in the Patna High Court (2004) that if people in jail cannot vote, they cannot stand for elections, but doesn't indicate his own stand. Thirdly, he contradicts himself when expresses his opposition to ban on dissemination of results of exit polls, before voting concludes, while agreeing that they influence an increasingly literate and TV watching populace. Should we then consider this as a permissible influence? He then joins others who want the voting period to be shortened from a month to a week or one day, but doesn't sufficiently deal with the logistical problems of providing and moving security. Fourth, I agree with him that pre and post-poll allies must be treated alike by the President, faced with a hung Parliament. He also suggests that the President should choose the largest minority,(party or a combination) if a party claiming majority support is not available. He wants the arithmetic solution to be placed in an Instrument of Instructions as intended by the Draft Constitution. President Pratibha Patil must listen to at least one of his suggestions that she should not ask the PM to seek a vote of confidence. But what if that largest minority is opposed by the majority of Members of the newly constituted House? Again, he has no answers.
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