Empowering non political President can be effective alternative to Lokpal !
Constitutionally, The President of India is the Head of State. The President appoints Prime Minister and top functionaries to run the Government, such as Cabinet Ministers, State Governors, Ambassadors, Supreme Court Judges, Defense Service Chiefs, Election Commissioners, Members of the UPSC, Chief Vigilance Commissioner. His primary function is to oversee that all functions of the state are carried out according to the Constitution. When government cannot be run as per the Constitution he has Emergency powers to dismiss an elected government and promulgate Presidential Rule.
This all sounds perfect and impressive on paper, but practically the President acts on the advice of the Prime Minister. His appointment is only ceremonious, to execute the dictates of Prime Minister. He simply reads aloud the policy statement speech prepared by the PMO before the first session of the Parliament.
The relative importance of Presidential Office and PMO can be inferred from the fact that opinion sought from Home Ministry by the ex President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam regarding disposal of mercy petition of twice convicted terrorist Afzal is still pending for the last many years unanswered while the President retired almost three years ago.
Why do we have such an expensive ceremonial institution? Why not to empower this grand office for better performance in our democracy? It will be worthwhile to invest The President with power to dismiss any functionary of the Government appointed by him if they get impugned on the charges of corruption. For such matters the President should be guided by his own wisdom or expert opinion at his choice. If we repose faith on this august institution we can dispense with the idea of proposed Lokpal.
At present Prime Minister being the leader of political party having majority in Parliament is guided by the political dictates of his party. His advice to the President also reflects partisan approach on all matters including corruption. It is therefore necessary for the health of democracy to free the President from the clutches of Prime Minister when the latter himself comes under clout.
A President elected directly by all citizens of the Country, as in USA, can over see cases of corruption against any authority including Vice President, PM and Higher Judiciary. He may be able to dismiss them if required. No doubt it will result in setting up of two centers of Power – The Prime Minister and the President. But aren’t we are contemplating to have a third centre Lokpal to oversee Judiciary, Prime minister and every one else?
To elect a non political President, there should be no canvassing of candidates by political parties or business houses. Persons should be eminent personalities, physically fit, well educated, and with clean reputation in the country like some of our past Presidents like Dr Rajendra Prasad, Dr S Radhakrishnan and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Election Commission should place the data of all aspirants on the internet. Public discussions for the suitability may go on for a year or so giving fair chance to every candidate at no election expense. Some modalities shall have to be worked out for restricting the number of posts.
Unless we place robots as Presidents and Prime Ministers, human weaknesses cannot be totally eliminated from both. Normally such a grand person as President will not get involved in corruption, but if that be so, the Parliament can remove him under the existing system of impeachment. Removal of corrupt Prime Minister shall rest with the President if he is reasonably satisfied with prima facie evidence.
The Presidential Election and Elections for the Parliament should be staggered so that some governance machinery is in office at all the time. A President may have the power to appoint National Cabinet whenever elected cabinet is not in place.
Whatever is said about the President in the above context, can be made to apply to the Governors of states also. It will be an effective and better remedy than Lokpals.
Politicians are not likely to agree and part with their existing powers and avenue to rehabilitate useless politicians in glittering office. Brushing them aside, the Constitutional experts and intelligentsia may examine this proposal with open mind, and press further if convinced.
Chand K Sharma.