DailyPost 2328

The country gets is functional sovereign status when the Union Legislature makes laws aligned to the bedrock of the all laws – the constitution. It is for this reason it is known as the law of the land. The executive is accountable to it. In the democratic scheme of things, besides the enactments and there any number of the other functions with the legislatures are assigned with, mainly being conducted at the time of the sessions. Parliamentary Committees related functions are conducted off session as well. Legislature’s sessions are known for the debates it entails, which in itself is the epitome of democracy.

The privileges the legislative debates have, the way they are documented, the critical topics they deal with, some urgent / crisis related too and the heated exchanges between the treasury and the opposition benches is what makes them the backbone of democracy. Some parliamentarians are known for the speeches they make and debates they indulge in during the sessions of the state or the union legislatures. They are the beacons of parliamentary democracy. Many a times they have changed the course of nations. The precision, intellect, wit, sarcasm and depth are generally on display. But certainly, what has been missing in practice is the evidence-based legislative regimen, which is a necessity in the judicial adjudication.

Parliament being rocked on newspaper reportage / revelation, on investigative reports, allegations and inferences are not uncommon. Starting here, the issues get instant eyeballs from across the country and so many times it snowballs into a major political capital for the opposition. Governments have been shown the way on this count. If evidence were to be the touchstone of the parliamentary debates and documentation, for sure democracy would have been poorer. Showing a xeroxed document or rag tag paper or a document whose worth could rarely be made out, has been enough to grab country’s attention, through the legislature, if it was worth it. Substantiation and evidence have always been a later issue, might not be even the legislature’s prerogative.

In the last few days, evidence is being talked about and bandied to declare the worthiness of a parliamentary intervention. The strict reading of the rule book with a purpose can have any interpretation. Parliament also runs on convention of that particular country and some conventions from the world over. Issues which have put the government on the coals have been found bereft of evidence in a court of law. Flagging issues in a variety of ways, debating, enacting and pursuing it in the legislative mode in the interest of the people, is the job of the parliament. From where does a MP get all the evidence? What is legislative evidence? Who has defined it? And does the presiding officer decide what is evidence, then who is responsible for its veracity and authenticity. Instead of knowledge and logic based reasonably factual debates in interest of the nation, now there is a red herring for parliamentary speeches and debates. How will it fan out, no one knows? Or was it just a whimper.

Sanjay Sahay

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