Mahesh Chander Sudan
We, the people of India, have witnessed recent session of parliament where in few legislations have been passed to alter application of Articles 370 and 35A besides reorganizing the territorial boundaries of the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The President of India while giving his consent declared the date of effect of these legislations as 31 Oct 2019. The changed scenario emerging with the application of these laws not only nullifies the application of various sub clauses of Article 370 but also divides three regions of J&K into two Union territories namely JK and Ladakh. This constitutional change would bring the state of Jammu and Kashmir under direct administrative control of the Central Government and thus may result in some public annoyance as the people of this princely state enjoyed special status while being an independent federation of the Indian Union. It is therefore felt imperative to carry out an analytic study of the features of Indian democracy and their relevance in the present scenario. Indian democracy has fourteen main features that would form scope of this article aimed to present possible interpretation of each one of them. Popular Sovereignty forms base for our democracy and allows people to exercise their power through their elected representatives, and Government remains responsible to the common masses for its every omission and commission.
In the present scenario, the system has failed to respect and ensure popular sovereignty to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Second feature of Indian democracy is Political Equality which means all citizens are considered to be equal before law irrespective of their caste, creed, religion, race or sex and gives right to vote to every citizen. Third in the sequence speaks of Majority Rule which remained nonoperational due to absence of elected public representatives and did fail to convey the opinion of the people of J&K at right forum. Article I of the Indian constitution describes India as a Union of States and the states are supposed to be autonomous having freedom in some matters and also depend on Union for some other matters as per three lists provided in the Constitution as separation of Powers. This feature of the Indian Constitution actually raises the sentiments of the people as the state with full constitutional autonomy is being converted into Union Territories without prior involvement of the common masses and in a manner that hurts them more.
Collective Responsibility is another feature of Indian democracy that assigns the legislative responsibility to both state and central council of Ministers. A long spell of Governor and President Rule post dissolution of PDP+BJP Government conveys intentional delay in holding Legislative elections and installing Rule of Laws affecting the welfare of the state. Rule of Law also occupies very significant place in the features of Indian democracy. Forming of public opinion through democratic institutions like Legislature is incumbent on the part of Government and it is a known fact that absence of active legislature of the state affected the trust of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Respect for the opinion of Minority by majority and due tolerance towards it enriches the democracy and neglect of the same degenerates democracy into authoritarianism and this needs hardly any further explanation as it is self-explanatory.
Next feature of Indian democracy provides for individual dignity by giving various rights to the individual like right to freedom of speech and expression, right to form association or union, educational and cultural rights. In the present context, it is very evident that our Union Government has shown least concern towards individual dignity of the citizen of J&K who are the real stake holders and they actually formed the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Mere excuse of development of the State holds no water as the human development index of the Government of India places J&K well above the bench mark model of development of the state of Gujrat especially in the area of health and education. Rule of Consent as a feature of Indian democracy believes in the general consent and not in force or coercion allowed while solving any problem that may arise in the governance of the state. It is thus incumbent on the part of Central dispensation to display maturity and reconsider the conversion of State into Union Territory besides application of constitutional order No. 272 dated 05 Aug 2019.
Indian democracy implies for free and opens society thereby allowing every public issue to be discussed openly for finding workable solutions. Democracy is a Government by adjustment and compromises and respect for plurality of ideas leads the Government to achieve the desired status of Welfare Government and democracy is in fact considered a powerful weapon to retain individual’s freedom, liberty and dignity. The last but not the least is Independent Judiciary. Democracy is characterized by Independent Judiciary. The Judiciary does not depend on executive or legislature and no government organ can influence judiciary. There are many instances when our Judiciary proved its place in the Indian democracy by delivering fair and free judgements.
We found that the present turmoil resulted due to negligence of some features of the Indian democracy by the ruling central dispensation under the influence of large mandate exercised in their favour by the voters, showing no respect to the opinion of the minority. We, therefore, urge the Union Government to respect features of India democracy to restore the confidence of peoples across the world and help Indian Democracy to flourish beyond Indian soil as conceived and envisaged by the framers of our Constitution. God bless my India. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat.
The author is Wg Cdr (Retd)