The Telegraph
Wednesday , April 23 , 2014
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Perform or perish, reform outfit tells MPs & MLAs

- Bharatiya Suraaj Manch to appeal for law that permits recalling below-par elected representatives

Bharatiya Suraaj Manch, a crusading outfit for good governance, declared on Tuesday that it would push for legislation that gives voters the right to recall representatives elected to the state Assemblies and the Lok Sabha if found corrupt or unsatisfactory.

Speaking at a news meet in Ranchi, the civil society ‘s national convener P.K. Siddharth said they would release a white paper to press for the right of the electorate to recall elected candidates even after results of ongoing Lok Sabha elections were declared.

“We strongly refute the chief election commissioner’s contention that a right to recall legislation will destabilise the country and necessitate frequent elections. There are laws to guide the functioning of trusts, companies and partnership firms. It is only fitting that the working of elected people’s representatives is regulated as well,” he added.

Siddharth added that an MP or MLA should not enjoy his or her five-year-term “unconditionally”.

“Voters should have the right to recall him on grounds of underperformance or corruption,” he said, adding that there should obviously be safeguards to prevent the misuse of such a legislation.

The national convener of Bharatiya Suraaj Manch cited examples of Jharkhand MPs, who have rarely attended Parliament sessions.

“While students of schools and colleges are debarred from appearing in examinations if their attendance is below 70 or 75 per cent, no such rule has been framed for elected representatives. There are many MPs who have not asked a single question in the Lok Sabha. There is no point in allowing such a person to continue office,” he said.

Siddharth went on to say that a law to recall public representatives was in place in Canada, the US, Switzerland and Venezuela.

“In the US, such a law has been in force since 1908. Yet, only two governors, North Dakota’s Lynn J. Frazier in 1921 and California’s Gray Davis in 2003, have been recalled so far. Hence, the apprehension that all hell will break loose if such a law is introduced in India is quite misplaced,” he stressed.

Regarding the implementation of the recall legislation, Siddharth said the Manch advocated setting up an outfit named political standards commission, headed by a retired justice of the Supreme Court, to set standards and monitor their compliance by political parties and elected representatives at the centre and state-level.

“The chairperson and members of the commission will be appointed by a seven member bench of the Supreme Court through a transparent selection process,” he said.

Siddharth added the commission would prepare a report card after assessing the work done by MPs and MLAs every six months and preparing their report cards.

“After two years, if the average scores of four report cards show that an elected representative is among the lowest 5 percent of existing MPs or MLAs, the commission will advise the Election Commission (EC) to hold a referendum for recall,” he explained.

Regarding safeguards to prevent misuse of the proposed law, Siddharth said the white paper would ensure that no recall process could be initiated before expiry of two years from the day the MP or MLA assumes his office.

“There will also be a clause that the process to recall an elected representative cannot be initiated more than once in a five-year term.

Later, speaking to The Telegraph, Siddharth pointed out that since 1992, the EC had been suggesting various electoral reforms to the Union government with little success.

However, he pointed out that proposal for a right to recall legislation did not feature in the suggested reforms.

“We shall invite public debates on our proposals, draft a right to recall bill to regulate functioning of elected MPs and MLAs and put it before the Union government,” Siddharth said.

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