Rule by Ordinance

Article 123 of the constitution enables the President to promulgate an ordinance when both of the houses are not in session and it is practically not possible to pass a law. From the text of the article —  “circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action” —  it is very clear that the ordinance route should be used only when both the houses are not in session and the costs of delaying a particular legislation are extremely high. The ordinance process is inherently undemocratic and the constituent assembly felt the same. To quote Prof. K. T. Shah:

Most of us, I am sure, view with a certain degree of dislike or distrust the ordinance-making power vested in the Chief Executive. However we may clothe it, however it may necessary, however much it may be justified, it is a negation of the rule of law. That is to say, it is not legislation passed by the normal Legislature, and yet would have the force of law which is undesirable. Even if it may be unavoidable, and more than that, even if it may be justifiable in the hour of the emergency, the very fact that it is an extraordinary or emergency power, that it is a decree or order of the Executive passed without deliberation by the Legislature, should make it clear that it cannot be allowed, and it must not be allowed, to last a minute longer than such extraordinary circumstances would require.

To use such executive veto to give legislative effect to the so called important “anti-graft” bills shows the extent to which this government is prepared to undermine the institutions even in the last few days of its tenure.  If these bills are so important then why they were not passed in the parliament a week ago? And if ordinance route is becoming a norm, then what is the point in having a Parliament?


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