“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” This statement by H.L. Mencken, gives rise to various differentiated opinions, perspectives and ideas as to what do we exactly mean by the term ‘democracy’. Although there are innumerable definitions for this term, the basic idea remains the same. We being the largest country to follow this form of governance, are bound to have bundles of ambiguities, suggestions and dilemmas, too. One such suggestion came up when the Representation of People’s Act felt incomplete in concern with an article included in this act.
What are we talking about?
The Representation of People’s Act is an act which was enacted by the Indian provincial parliament prior to the first general elections. The People’s Representation Act provides for the conduct of elections in India. This act was enacted to keep a check on the unwanted practices at the time of elections. The clause 75A of this act states as of now, that, elected candidates of the two Houses of Parliament have to declare their assets and liabilities within 90 days from the date on which they take their seat. Though what remains incomplete here, is the fact that there is no such provision for the time when their term ends. This is a precarious ladder, which is bound to fall, if, not set up in the right manner.
A glance from the past
It was noticed and recorded that there were several politicians whose assets had taken a notable jump since the time they had taken charge of their offices. There are in fact statistics, which were stated by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) previously on the demanded enquiry by the Supreme Court. The CBDT presented that there had been a substantial hike in the assets of 7 Lok Sabha MPs and 98 MLAs and that several “discrepancies” were found.
A step towards the solution
So, to avoid such discrepancies and establish a rational system where accountability and transparency are prioritised, Mr Ninong Ering, a member of Parliament from Arunachal East introduced an amendment bill which proposes that Members of Parliament declare their assets within 90 days after their tenure ends. This provision is to be inserted as subsection 75B(1) in the Representation of People’s Act, 1951. This proposal has not exactly faced much flak but neither has it received much support. Certain media houses circulated reports explaining the pros and cons of this amendment bill, but it did not receive much flash and the whole agenda died before it could even surface properly. Most people still remain ignorant about the proposal of this amendment. And in no democracy should people be allowed to remain benighted about their own laws and surroundings. So, to further enlighten the people, there is a need to explain as to why do we need this amendment to be passed and how is it helpful in maintaining a healthy political environment.
Why is it the need of the hour?
- Check on corrupt practices.
- Prevents the victimisation of politicians with assets from justified sources.
- Castigates politicians with assets attained from unidentified and illegitimate sources.
- Common people should be able to hold their leaders accountable when required or necessary.
- Adds to the transparency in the functioning of the government.
- Strengthens the edifice of democracy.
- A possible end to the misuse of power and position.
The government of India is of the people, for the people and by the people. Hence, it is the utmost right of the people to be informed of the choices they have made or will make in the near future. Keeping aside all these points of views, all points of criticism and all points of appraisal, it is felt that this proposed amendment bill holds the capacity to bring about a change in the current scenario where corruption stands as an impediment on all our roads to progress and development.
About The Author: Abhishek Ranjan is a Research & Policy Analyst; Vijay Tyagi, Sharvi Saxena and Pragya Tyagi are Researchers and assisted in video execution