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President cautions on ordinances, ticks off Opp

Mukherjee expressed concern over the disturbing trend of obstructions in Parliament proceedings. While addressing faculty and students of central universities and research institutions through video conferencing in New Delhi, he said :“In a democracy, Parliament is the platform where laws are made through debate and deliberation. Opposition has right to criticise, oppose and expose the Government, but under no circumstances should the proceedings be disrupted.” He said dissent is a recognised democratic expression.

“However a noisy minority cannot be allowed to gag a patient majority. It is unfortunate that the time devoted by the members is gradually declining,” he added.

Proceedings in Parliament, the President said, must be in “spirit of cooperation, harmony and
purpose”, and Parliament “must not yield space for legislating and policy-making to mass mobilisation and street-protests.” Mukherjee referred to situations when the ruling party may not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha but felt a joint session of Parliament to make up for numbers to enact laws is not practical.

The President’s views assume significance in the context of the NDA government promulgating nine
ordinances including on opening the insurance sector to higher foreign investment after Parliament was paralysed in the winter session.

The President cautioned Parliament not to yield legislative and policy making powers to mass mobilisation and street protests because that may not always solve problems. “The Constitution confers limited power upon Executive for Ordinances to meet exigencies,” he said.

In its seven months in office, the government has used the ordinance route 10 times to push key policy changes, due to its lack of majority in the Upper House of Parliament, or Rajya Sabha, where the Opposition Congress has most numbers and has led other parties in holding up proceedings on a number of issues, blocking legislation.

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