DailyPost 2643

What is legislative bypass? Possibly you wouldn’t have heard of it anywhere. It is not a part of legal jargon nor does it find any mention in any narrative in our legislative history. Yet we have it in different measure all the time, and has been part of the unwritten legislative folklore for quite some time now. Whether it was so since the inception of democracy or not, I would not be able to confidently confirm or deny. Today, the bills overhauling the Indian criminal justice system took the same route and got legally mandated as the law of the land. Both the opposition and any worthwhile debate was missing.

If one pillar of Indian democracy has not performed, then it would be the legislatures. There are no goals or targets, there is nothing called delay there, if laws are missing or go unamended, its fine, gleefully overturn Supreme Court judgements and behave like the extended arm of the executive. Lack of accountability would be an understatement. Party whip runs roughshod. Even otherwise, how many of our law makers can judiciously contribute in the process law making in wide and varied areas. To top it all, how many have of them have even given it a thought that law making is their primary task. It has reached to an extend that the media at times calls it as the legislative work of the government.

If the bills are passed with the requisite numbers, the numbers in advance is be termed as the fulfilment of the legislative task. It is still worth a celebration. Legislative Bypass is the process by which bills can be mechanically passed through the legislature, with complete disregard to the concept, theory and practice of law making. How many of the law makers even read the bills, is left to your imagination. The treasury benches are there to sing paeans of the bill under consideration, without adding to its value, either by way of substantiated points to improve or substantiated criticism to some provisions to remove or to change. Most of the time in recent times, bills have been passed during stalemates, dharnas, walkouts or visible absence of members.

The passage of criminal law bills during the suspension of large number of opposition MPs can be termed as the crowning glory in the unrecorded history of Legislative Bypass. Legislative Bypass also connotes lack of faith in the opposition to contribute in the process of law making. While the law is passed by numbers, the quality of law has nothing to do with it, that would only come out of the churning which has been mandated and needs to be followed both in word and spirit. Riding roughshod with the intention to get laws passed goes contrary to the spirit of law making. This art has been practiced by various parties in a variety of ways. How can we have a flourishing rule of law, if the law itself has been created in an unruly manner.

Sanjay Sahay

Have a nice evening.

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