Code of conduct needed for elected members: Venkaiah Naidu

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on September 24, 2019 Published on September 25, 2019

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu   -  Nagara Gopal@thehindu

Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu favours ‘thorough reforms’ in bureacracy, Judiciary and Legislature to provide good governance and ensure happiness to the people.

The changes are necessary in view of the changing environment and demands in the past 70 years of independent India. The key is also in delivery, said the Vice-President, who completed two years in office recently, in an informal chat with BusinessLine here.

Referring to the Parliament and State Legislatures, Venkaiah Naidu wanted political parties to evolve a code of conduct for their members and in the legislatures. He went a step further to suggest monitoring and imposition of penal action for any violation.

These measures would improve the functioning of the legislatures, said the 70-year-old Venkaiah, who is also the chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

He said the recommendations of the VK Agnihotri Committee, which reviewed the rules and regulations of the Rajya Sabha were under active consideration. The two-member committee has reportedly proposed 124 new rules and recommended amendments to 77 in its 387-page report.

Code of conduct

Stating that in the last few sessions of the House, there was an overall improvement and greater transaction of official business and passage of important Bills in the Upper House, the Vice-President said ‘disruptive activities’ in whatever form can be brought down with these changes and the code of conduct.

Asked about the spate of defections, party hopping and the inadequacy of legislation to deal with the problem, which was weakening the democratic institution, Venkaiah Naidu said anti-defection laws should be implemented in letter and spirit and in a time-bound manner. In some States such as Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, in recent times, as well as in several other States the Speaker not taking a decision for a long time in the past has raised serious questions. He suggested that issues faced by legislators, like anti-defection, criminal cases and election petitions, should be disposed off within a “reasonable time frame of three months to maximum of a year, if it is a very serious matter.” If, necessary, separate tribunals or special Bench of the High Courts should be constituted in the concerned States, he added.

This calls for some reforms in the Judiciary, too, like establishing more benches of the Supreme Court, say starting with one in South India. Also, the SC should not be burdened with too many cases, but focus on constitutional matters and higher jurisprudence.

In the case of politicans, cases should be disposed off within a year, for which there should be special tribunals, said Venkaiah Naidu.

On the reforms in bureaucracy, the Vice-President said: “At present, accountability is lacking at every stage. Bureaucrats play a key role in the implementation of various government schemes of the Centre and States. There is a scope for assessing both the performance and accountability.

On poll funding

On poll funding and huge spending on elections, he said it was a tough call on the role of government in stipulating a cap to political parties themselves voluntarily curtailing spends. “I would hope people, especially the voter, plays a decisive role by choosing candidates on the basis of four Cs — character, calibre, conduct and capacity — and not the negative substitutes such as cash, caste, community and corruption.” He felt the fiscal responsibility act should be adhered to by political parties.

There is a need for a nation-wide debate on electoral reforms to strengthen the foundations of democracy and bring in more diversity and representation of people.

The Vice-President also wanted a check on huge promises of welfare measures and loan waivers before elections. What was needed is structural reforms to make farming and agriculture viable and remunerative, he added.

Published on September 25, 2019
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