Given that this blog has discussed the Hazare campaign in detail, readers may be interested in my EPW article on the legislative reform lessons we should learn from it. I have made similar arguments in a more succinct form in this op-ed published by the New Indian Express. Some excerpts follow:
wonderful pieces Tarun,
greatly enjoyed reading them. do we find any support for principles of participatory democracy in our constituent assembly debates etc. or in any court decision that dealt with principles of democracy? could one say that principles of participatory democracy form part of the basic structure?
While not dealing with participatory democracy per se, I believe that Justice Chandrachud, in one of the basic structure cases (Raj Narain, or Minerva Mills) does discuss the "concept" of democracy (as forming part of the basic structure), and how it is not possible to narrow it down to any specific version of governance/majority rule etc.
The judgment of the SC in The Superintendent, Central Prison, Fatehgarh v. Ram Manohar Lohia, 1960 SCR (2) 821 I think has gone in this direction. Section 3 of the UP Special Powers Act was in challenge. Section 3 makes instigation to not pay or defer payment of any liability an offence. Dr. Lohia urged the farmers to not pay increase in some tax. One of the reasons why the Court struck down s. 3 as unconstitutional was:
"It is said that in a democratic set up there is no scope for agitational approach and that if a law is bad the only course is to get it modified by democratic process and that any instigation to break the law is in itself a disturbance of, the public order. If this argument without obvious limitations be accepted, it would destroy the right to freedom of speech which is the very foundation of democratic way of life."
I think this does reflect some opinion on participatory democracy and is certainly useful to dismiss the agrument that the Anna Hajare team has been employing undemocratic methods to compel parliament to enact a legislation.
Join the discussion