On the basis of my study of various Laws and Constitution, and experience, I suggest the following points for restoring a good governance within the framework of our Constitution, as also for visible improvement in the Administration:-
(1) The Constitution needs to be followed in letter and spirit by all. Following are some notable violations of Constitution, which are going on since long:-
- Right to equality and equal Opportunity—violated by unscrupulous reservations not only in Services/Promotions, but also in Constituencies for Parliament etc—even there, the actual beneficiaries are not the ones for whom it was intended. The creamy layer is enjoying the fruits everywhere, while the down trodden continue to suffer and get exploited—which needs to be checked sincerely. Kashmir is another case in study. It is having a separate Constitution and set of Laws. No Indian can have ownership of land and buildings, even if he marries a Kashmiri woman. What is the point in calling it part of India, if this has to persist indefinitely? There is no positive effort to integrate it, as was done in case of Sikkim and Goa.
- Right to Property—One cannot acquire property in scheduled areas as also in J&K. This has hampered the integration of these areas with the rest of the country. This was never intended in the Constitution. Transfer of property can be regulated by the Government by laying down equitable conditions, but it should not be banned otherwise these areas will remain scheduled for all time to come.
- Right to freedom of speech—one cannot criticise the Courts or even the Lawyers/Media now. The Contempt of Court Act and the Law of Defamation are widely misused. Former has outlived its utility. It was intended to tame the unruly Zamindaars and their henchmen; to derive respect for the Court orders at the spot. It was not meant to be used against Government and its employees, who have an important role to play in Administration and function as prescribed by the Constitution. It should be abolished now. There are ample provisions in Chapter X of the IPC to deal with the offenders not obeying lawful orders like Section188 IPC. Same way Law of Defamation needs drastic changes, so that the person defamed is not subjected to further defamation during the proceedings of the case. At present, the saying goes that you defame your forefathers as well by filing a case of defamation; as such it is better to suffer the agony of defamation, rather than file a case.
- Continuity of Law is the soul of any legal system. If the Law is frequently changed (by its frequent interpretations by the Higher Judiciary), then it confuses the people on whom it is applicable. In U.K. the decisions of Privy Council hold good for a century or more, because there the Council cannot review its decisions without the approval of the Crown(i.e. Govt.). In our Constitution also similar safeguard was provided in Art.145(1)(e); which reads as follows:-
“Subject to the provisions of any law made by Parliament, the Supreme Court may from time to time, with the approval of the President, make rules for regulating generally the practice and procedure of the Court including—
(e) rules as to the conditions subject to which any judgment pronounced or order made by the Court may be reviewed and the procedure for such review including the time within which applications to the Court for such review are to be entered;”
But perhaps the catch was not understood by the then Govt. and the rules framed by the Apex Court (and approved by the Govt/President) gave them the liberty to review their decisions as and when they like it; so much so that they can set aside even the Capital punishment upheld by them earlier and subsequently even after the rejection of Mercy plea by the President. The rule in this regard needs to be revisited making every one of the reviews to be subjected to a prior approval by the President. This will also ensure continuity of Law.
- For the appointment of Judges, procedure mentioned in Constitution should be followed. Nowhere in the Constitution, it is mentioned that they will be appointed by a Collegium of Apex Court Judges only nor that the Judiciary will be independent. Every wing of governance has to function within the frame work of Constitution only.
- Similarly, tendency in the Government to refer ticklish matters to Courts should be curtailed. One such matter is Ram JanamBhumi case. It is a Political issue, and it is for the Executive to bring about an acceptable consensus amongst the various groups and to come to a conclusion. Courts should be insulated from Political issues.
- In actual practice, the Writs have been replaced by PILs. Many times PILs are used to harass any citizen or Govt. department. Writs are provided in the Constitution, and should be encouraged by the Hon’ble Courts in stead of PILs.
(2) Simplification of Laws and Procedures. Too many Laws with too many interpretations have reduced the Law to be an exercise of the intellectuals, by the intellectuals and for the intellectuals; where as all Laws are supposed to be known to the man on the street. Ignorance of Law cannot be cited as a defence. IPC and all Minor Acts need to be re-codified in accordance with the Penalty prescribed (this will reduce the number of sections to about a dozen covering all Laws—prior to the British advent only this number of offences were applicable in the country—ref “Crime and Police in India-before 1861, by Dr. Anandswarup Gupta I.P.”) for various actions and inactions which shake the Conscience. All Penalties should be prescribed as specific and final. There should be only one appeal before the next higher Court. Variety of SLPs and Criminal Revisions should be abolished. Only one revision with the next higher Court can be permitted.
(3) Prosecutors should be part and parcel of the Police Establishment. While an accused can have access to the best Lawyers in the country, the Investigator has no one to help him in putting up the case in the best possible manner before the Court, as such the conviction rate remains very poor. Law should not have tilt towards the accused. It should be equally balanced for both Prosecution and the accused. The tilt has caused so much lawlessness in the Society.
(4) Nobody employs a servant, on whom the Master has no faith. But in Independent India we are carrying on the burden of such a Colonial Police Force even 67 years after Independence. In Singapore Mr Lee Kuan Yew first Prime Minister had overnight adopted the British Police system / Criminal & Civil Procedures (who make Police/Courts a public servant—who actually serve the common man). He hired a few retired & serving trainers from UK; and put the serving personnel under thorough repeated training and evaluation process & within an year the whole Administrative system including Courts got transformed from a rotten Colonial face to people’s friendly entity. We can still do so in India, instead of appointing Commissions and Committees, whose recommendations are already available in abundance in the country .
(5) Police Act and procedures need to be overhauled. Their vintage of 1861 speaks volumes. Independent India should have a dependable, trustworthy and reliable Police Force. They are widely used like the Britishers used them, to suppress the opponents. Following points are suggested :-
- Cr.P.C. and Evidence Act should be changed drastically. Obnoxious provisions like Sections 100(4&5),161/162 of the Cr.P.C. and Sections 25/26 Evidence Act should be deleted.
- In order to build up public and Court’s confidence in the Police, their working should be made absolutely transparent,and 100% recording of complaints and prompt action there on should be statutory. All Police establishments should have close circuit TVs(to minimise the visits of undesirable characters), and there should be interrogation rooms fitted with video and audio recording devices. Complaints, F.I.Rs. and statements should be audio-video-recorded and directly used as evidence by the Courts and Prosecutors etc.during the trials.
- Bulk Police Force consists of Constabulary, who are generally not used directly in Police duties, like attending to public grievances etc. They are mostly used in supportive roles. This needs a change. Well educated and trained people should be inducted as constables; who should be able to attend to public grievances(other than investigations). This will make the Force more effective without any big increase in cost.
- Misuse of Constabulary in private jobs by the seniors; and their wastage in the shape of Associations, guard duties etc should be constantly checked by frequent Force Audits to be conducted by experienced and disinterested Police Officers. For security purposes the Force should be separated and specially trained just like we have for Traffic duties.
- Traffic is considered to reflect the image of the governance in the area. Rail, road, and Air traffic needs to be made efficient and punctual. Beside, the traffic movement in all the cities, needs to be made more efficient and faster. Traffic jams particularly on account of bad roads (Engineers in charge should be provided extra funds with dedicated staff to ensure that road-repairs are done overnight; and must be squarely responsible for any laxity) , or accident(traffic laws should be rigidly enforced to minimise the accidents; and vehicles should be quickly removed from the spot after photography, for which Thana Police should be equipped), or a faulty vehicle in the middle of the road (public/drivers in particular need to be educated, by questioning them at the time of granting Licences, to push and remove the vehicle from main road; beside arrangement for towing away should be at beck and call like the PCR/Fire services etc)or too many traffic signals (effort should be made to replace as many traffic signals by providing U-turns on the main roads and allowing only left turns to the traffic; as also planning over bridges where ever possible; curtailing pedestrians crossing the roads(Foot over bridges may be provided at such places; and pedestrians should not be allowed on the roads) and lastly the VIP movement ( which should be restricted only to the P.M.; with such precision of quick planning that the traffic is not held up for more than 2-minutes). On longer routes say more than 5 KM Helicopter should be used for the PM instead of road journey. On National Highways the Toll booths should be abolished. The price of fuel saved at such places will adequately compensate for the money collected, apart from the precious time of the travellers, which is invaluable. Similarly speed breakers should be removed from the roads. Public should be educated about the traffic discipline and ways to live safely on road side; instead of putting breaks on the moving traffic.
(6) Civil Law should be activated in the country. Much violence and bad blood amongst relations and neighbours is due to the absence of an effective, functional and prompt Civil law in the Country. Its procedures need to be drastically changed and its effectiveness established on the pattern of USA and some European Countries. This will mitigate the burden on Criminal Law
(7) Education should be job-oriented right from the Primary stage. It is an unfortunate situation in the country that even after Post Graduation an ordinary student is unable to find a suitable vocation. It is waste of country’s limited resources. Macauley had introduced an Education-system in India which produced Clerks. It was not vocation- oriented. Prior to 1840, India had vocational education right from the Primary level. While the children learnt alphabets and basics of Mathematics, they also learnt the trades of their family; and thus at any stage they could sustain the burden of their family, in case of a mishap. Today’s Graduate or even Post-graduate is at a loss to find a proper job to sustain himself, much less his family. Vocational training should be compulsorily introduced right from the Primary stage and similarly specialization should be introduced much earlier than in the present system. For instance, one has to study upto Plus-2 level compulsorily, before one chooses to be an Engineer or a Doctor. A lawyer has to study upto graduation. Why can’t they pick up their field of vocation earlier? This will bring down the cost of Education and will produce good specialists in every field including Administration(which is highly specialised field of activity, though most think it to be the domain of the Generalists).
(8) Our Ancient system of Medicine and style of living should be revived and given due publicity. Simple foods like a stress on green vegetables and fresh fruits with exercises, controls Cholesterol problems, whereas we spend crores on Statins, who damage the body as well. Same way pain-killers are widely used. A simple mixture of Flax seed, Fenugreek, turmeric and Pipli cures severe back-aches/knee problems. A simple practice of Gyan Mudra for 15 minutes a day and 4 globules of Bio-chemic Kali Phos6x or 3x at bed time takes care of Insomnia, etc.and several other similar practices.
(9) Corruption is eating into the vitals of the country’s economy. Corruption is the product of Opportunity and Discretion . Propensity also contributes to it. Some people have an innate tendency to become rich with least effort, and some grow up in a dishonest surrounding; and so enter the world with a dead or inert conscience. However, corruption thrives where there is no or little Deterrence. It can be controlled overnight by:
- Organizing red-handed trapping of the corrupt on a large scale by several Flying Squads;
- Filing of Na-mukammal charge-sheets in trap cases with their audio-video recordings;
- Fixed 10 year punishment to the guilty and seizure of all his property/assets with simultaneous dismissal from service;
- Expeditious trial of all cases;
- Reducing element of discretion and opportunity in all governance to the extent possible.
- Prompt action in pending enquiries.
Any amount of legislation and bringing in Agencies (like Lokpal etc) to check corruption is not going to bring about the desired effect, unless the Government have the Will and Integrity to do so. The Electoral Reforms are over due. Even today the Laws and Agencies to control corruption are not insufficient ; but then the Laws like Benami Transactions Prohibition Act(enacted in 1988) etc remain on paper; and Vigilance Agencies are crippled by all Governments by-
- Frequent interference in there working;
- Keeping them emaciated/incapacitated on staff and facilities/infrastructure fronts;
- Using them more to hound the political opponents and inconvenient people;
Anti Corruption Act should be applicable to all citizens, i.e to the Judiciary, Lawyers, Doctors, Journalists, Private Sector as well as to politicians(of all statures) and public. This would only emphasise the supremacy of the rule of Law( which is the essence of our Constitution)
(10) Generation of black money should be stopped by reducing taxes, duties, registration fees etc.; apart from making the Taxation system simpler and transparent. For money launderers/defaulters summary trials as suggested in Trap cases should be adopted.
(11) The members of the Niti Ayog, instead of sitting in Air Conditioned offices should continuously move in the field and remain in constant touch with the ground situation and the PM on phone/Internet; so that the blocks in progress are quickly removed. They should also remove some routine hindrances by coordination at the spot.
(12) Budgeting and expenditure in Government should be on monthly basis, so that Budget allocated by the Parliament is prudently and gainfully utilized round the year. At present all projects await the month of March; and then in a haphazard way expenditure is incurred in most Governments (at Centre as well as States). This practice needs immediate checking. Once projects are duly prepared and budgeted for, the executing departments should be free to spend the money allocated to them in Budget. They should not have to run behind their Administrative Ministries and Finance Ministry to get the funds for starting the work, or for procuring the articles they had proposed in the budget. In most cases such clearances are not available to the executing departments before March; when there is little time left for ensuring proper spending of huge sums with quality controls. Whatever controls and scrutiny are required to examine the expenditure etc. on a project, it must be done before the matter is placed before the Parliament/Legislature for passage of Budget.