Presidential Form Of Government: Need Of The Hour?
By Nemi Bhavsar
Presidential government- need of the hour?
At the time of framing of the constitution, Dr. Ambedkar stated the following reasons for preferring parliamentary form of government over a presidential form:
A democratic executive must satisfy two conditions:
1)It must be a stable executive
2)It must be a responsible executive.
The Constituent Assembly, considered it best to opt for a parliamentary government structure for India, since in presidential form of government, the same person, acts as the head of the state and the government.” In this form the executive is not accountable to the legislature. The President has a fixed tenure and cannot be removed through impeachment or vote by no-confidence in the legislature.
Why parliamentary form was chosen:
It has been opined that the Constituent assembly was merely culmination of a process and evaluation which had commenced under the British rule and passed through several stages of development. The present constitution was thus carried strictly from the Government of India Act, 1935.Another reason assigned is that the ideals of western liberal democracy nurtured as they had been in the political philosophy of Burke, Mill and Dicey. The result was that our political leaders came to look upon the Westminister model as the goal of their constitutional aspirations. Thus, it was to no surprise, that when the time came for them to exercise the choice they opted in favour of this model. Ambedkar mentioned that in England where the parliamentary system prevails, the assessment of responsibility of the executive is both daily and periodic. The daily assessment is done by members of the parliament through questions, resolutions, No- confidence motions, Adjournment motions and debates on addresses. Periodic assessment is done by the electorate at the time of the election which may take place every five years or earlier. This daily assessment of responsibility, not available under the American system, was felt more effective than the periodic assessment and far more necessary in a country like India.
Shri Vardhachari in his book President in the Indian constitution referred to a leading constitutional law writer Durga Das Basu.
He mentioned three reasons for our Cabinet system of Government having not worked successfully and they were:We have got a system of multiple parties, some of which are of mushroom growth or have an insignificant body of followers.Very few of these parties have any firm or defined policy or ideology which can be presented as an alternative to that advocated by the party in power.The tradition of the party system in India has been destructive, because of its origin in the upsurge against the imperial rule of which destruction was the principal weapon.
Advocates of presidential form of government:
Shri R. Venkataraman (8th president of India), when he was a member of the Planning Commission, he gave a notice in May 1965 to move a resolution in the session of All India Congress Committee (AICC) for seeking to change the constitution by having directly elected executive both in Centre and the States.
In Indian democracy at the cross-roads edited by S.A.H Haqqi, the author summed up as to why a constitutional expert like N.A. Palkhivala is of the opinion that the presidential system should be opted:
It enables the president to form a cabinet consisting of competent, honest and outstanding men since his choice is not restricted to the members of legislature.
Since the members of the cabinet are not the elected representatives of the people, they have no interest in adopting cheap populist tactics.
It would stop defections among legislators which are mostly due to lure office and power.
There is no genuine separation of powers:
The legislature cannot truly hold the executive accountable since the government wields the majority in the House. He says that this system has also produced coalition governments which have been obliged to focus more on politics than on policy or performance. It has forced governments to concentrate less on governing than on staying in office. The parliamentary system has distorted the voting preferences of an electorate that knows which individuals it wants but not necessarily which parties or policies.