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Avoid disruption of Parliament, state legislatures: Prez Pranab

By E T B Sivapriyan
Last updated on: November 30, 2012 19:11 IST
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Making a passionate plea to lawmakers to avoid disruption of Parliament and state assemblies, President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday called for "collective thinking" by political parties on the issue.

He also asked them to ponder whether there was any need to amend existing rules to ensure smooth functioning of the House.

Addressing the diamond jubilee celebrations of the Tamil Nadu assembly in Chennai, he said though dissent is a recognised democratic expression, it should be expressed and used with "decency and within the contours and parameters of Parliamentary devices."

"I have been noticing the tendency of disruption in Parliament and state legislatures. We frame the rules ourselves. They are flexible enough and there is nothing that prevents us from amending the rules. While on celebrations, we take a vow that we will not disrupt and the next day we do the same thing. This is not expected from us," he said.

He also called for a collective thinking by political parties and leaders on how to ensure smooth running of Parliament.

The President also expressed concern over the increasing trend of allocating less time to debate and discuss legislations, especially those related to financial matters, like the budget.

He asked Parliament and state legislatures to take remedial measures on this issue.

Mukherjee said the role and function of a legislative assembly can be described as three Ds -- debate, dissent and decision -- while observing that the fourth 'D' of disruption should strictly be avoided.

Mukherjee said the imperative of maintaining discipline and decorum in the House and the observance of rules, conventions and etiquette can hardly be over-emphasised.

"Dissent is a recognised democratic expression, but it should be expressed with decency and within the norms, convention and parameters of parliamentary devices," he said.

The cardinal principle of effective functioning of a Parliamentary system is that majority will rule and minority will oppose, expose and if possible depose, he said, noting that this should be executed within the rules framed by legislatures themselves.

"The minority has to accept decisions of the majority while the majority has to respect the views of the minority," he said.

Mukherjee's comments come against the backdrop of an increasing number of disruptions and commotion in Parliament and state assemblies in the country.

In his 20-minute speech, he also spoke about the contributions made to the assembly and development of Tamil Nadu by leaders like late matinee idol M G Ramachandran, DMK chief M Karunanidhi and AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa.

The President reminded the MLAs that it should be their endeavour to ensure that the content and quality of debates are of a high order befitting their status as people's representatives.

Observing that there are issues that directly concern the common man, the President said lawmakers transcending all political barriers must jointly work towards the causes.

"All legislators and political parties must recognize that democracy is about welfare, good governance and all round development of society and not competitive populism," Mukherjee said.

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E T B Sivapriyan
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