India’s Constitution failed by its implementers: Kashyap
Eminent constitutional expert and author of over a hundred books on Polity and Constitution, Subhash C. Kashyap, who was the Constitutional Adviser to the Government of India and chairman of the Drafting Committee of the National Commission on the Review of the Working of the Constitution, in an exclusive interview to Shashank Chouhan of Zeenews.com talks about the journey of the Indian Republic, its successes and failures in the past 60 years.
60 years of the Indian Constitution- success or failure?
In my opinion it is both. In certain areas it has shown tremendous success and at certain places, significant failures. Firstly, the survival potential of theConstitution is its greatest success. It has withstood the tests of time while those of other countries commenced around the same period have floundered or abrogated.
Our Republic has turned sixty without losing its basic tenets of freedom, democracy, secularism and rule of law, which in itself is a great success. We have successfully faced problems, calamities, internal disturbance, external aggression and secessionist threats without breaking down. And lastly, we have made considerable development despite malevolent forces and innumerable impediments trying their best to dismantle our constitutional machinery.
But we also cannot deny the fact that out Constitution has failed to live up to the expectations of its makers. The architects of the Constitution had hoped that the Indian Republic would provide basic amenities to the poor masses. But even after sixty years, we have millions of poor living in sub human conditions. In fact, we have more poor and illiterate today than our total population at the time of Independence.
Would you say that the preservers of the Constitution- the people's representatives, the judiciary, people's opinion etc have failed it or is it the other way round?
In this case also it is both ways round. Our Constitution was based on the colonial model. 75% of it has been derived from various Government of India Acts which intended to make India weak and divided. Dr Rajendra Prasad and BR Ambedkar had remarked that the success of the Constitution would depend upon the people implementing it.
If the Constitution has not been fully successful, it is not because of any fault in its draft but because of the weakness and incapability of its executers. People working on it are more at fault. They have turned selfish, completely forgetting its ideals of service, sacrifice and welfare.
What are the areas in the Constitution that need re-working and why?
Personally, I feel that many things that need to be done can be done easily without making any amendments to the Constitution. If only one change was required, I feel it should be in the electoral law and the functioning of the political parties. There should be an amendment in the Representation of People’s Act. Right now 70% of the elected representatives are elected by minority of votes (more against than in favour of them). It should be made mandatory for a candidate to win 50% plus votes and in case of absence of it there should be run-off election the very next day.
Rules should be made to do away with high expenditure in elections and involvement of muscle power. Number of political parties should be reduced and their accounts should be audited & brought under public scrutiny.
Changes should be brought about in Article 356 which pertains to Union-State relations. History shows that it has been more misused than used.
There has been a clamor for Presidential style of democracy in India for years now. What are your views on it?
It is sheer loose talk by those who have very a poor idea of our Republican system. There are many variants of Presidential style democracy. America, Fiji, Philippines and Sri Lanka have their own models. India too has its own Presidential system. There is no point aping US or any other country when we have our own form running successfully from the past six decades. What we have is a combination of both Parliamentary and Presidantial forms. Why should we change over to some other style?
What about the abrogation of Article 370? Is it going to be ever possible to do that?
If Article 370 is to remain, why not apply it to all states of the country? I believe in decentralization of power. I believe that there should be more power at local level as Gandhi ji had wanted it- power with the people.
Do you agree with the recommendations of the National Commission for Review of Constitution formed by the NDA?
I was the Chairman of the drafting committee of the National Commission for Review of Constitution. And 90% of the recommendations were mine. So you can imagine that I agree with most of them. (Laughs)