Villagers in some villages in Maharashtra are casting votes to state their opinion on an SEZ, and the government has promised to take their verdict ‘into account’ in making its decision. Issue based referenda, quite common in many democracies, do not find place in our constitutional scheme. This may be a beginning. In fact, on issues like SEZs where a cacophony of discordant political and corporate voices drowns the real desire of the local people, a referendum might solve the problem decisively.
Professor Tarunabh Khaitan is a Professor of Public Law & Legal Theory and the Vice Dean at the Faculty of Law, Oxford. He is also a Professor and Future Fellow at Melbourne Law School. He is the founding General Editor of the Indian Law Review and the founder & Chief Advisor of the Junior Faculty Forum for Indian Law Teachers.
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