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Political subterfuge

Political subterfuge
Highlights

The political caterwauling on Jallikattu is not unexpected in a populist democracy that suffers from a congenital disorder of playing with the people’s sentiments.  

The political caterwauling on Jallikattu is not unexpected in a populist democracy that suffers from a congenital disorder of playing with the people’s sentiments.

Precisely, this is the reason for strident demand for promulgating ordinance to circumvent even the apex court’s order not to proceed with the cruel sport.

The Centre seems to be in an unprecedented hurry to pamper extreme Tamil sentiment to come out of its Hindi chauvinist image. It stems out of smelling a possibility to enter what seems to be unfavourable political pitch especially in the wake of titans leaving the field.

But, in the process, in case the political system issues an ordinance, it would be doing a great injustice to India’s democratic process.

This is not just from animal rights perspective, but hoodwinking the higher court of the country for a mere political purpose is nothing but setting a dangerous precedent only for the successive governments to emulate.

A demand for a similar ordinance for allowing cockfights would follow from the neighbouring State of Andhra Pradesh, if Jallikattu ordinance comes through.

In DC Wadhwa vs State of Bihar (1986), the Supreme Court held, “The power to promulgate an ordinance is essentially a power to be used to meet an extraordinary situation and cannot be allowed to be ‘perverted to serve political ends.’”

The apex court further clarified that ordinances should be issued to meet an emergency situation; and should, therefore, be of necessity only.

By no stretch of imagination, bull taming or any such gladiatorial entertainment can be construed as a necessity or an emergency situation to warrant promulgation of an ordinance.

If a constitutional authority like the Supreme Court inhibits doing an act, another constitutional authority, the executive, cannot be allowed to defeat it by adoption of any subterfuge. That would be clearly a fraud on the constitutional provision.

The power to issue an ordinance is a power wielded in circumstances that require immediate action. Bulls are not demanding any such immediate action. Still, politicians are so bullish on this bulls sport.

The legitimacy of an ordinance should be tested against public interest and constitutional necessity. The rule of law constitutes the core of the Constitution of India.

It is the essence of the rule of law that the exercise of the power by the State, whether it be the Legislature or the Executive or any other authority, should be within the constitutional limitations.

Any attempt to issue an ordinance on Jallikattu is arbitrary and aimed at subverting the judicial order. This is in flagrant and systematic violation of the Executive’s constitutional limitations, though it’s constitutionally empowered to go for an ordinance.

Challenging such a practice of issuing ordinances for parochial purposes is in the interest of preserving democratic values. Invoking constitutional provisions meant for extraordinary situations in ordinary circumstances would blur the distinction between extraordinary and ordinary, thus vitiating the constitutionalism that remains the bedrock of Indian democracy.

The governments should not inflict irreparable damage on Constitutional democracy to serve political expediency.

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