"(LIVE MINT) Indian states highlight institutional decay.Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh are the exhibits of this worrying trend. Discuss.
• In Uttarakhand the chief minister had lost confidence of the majority was clear when the Appropriation bill—a money bill equivalent to a trust vote—could not be passed without the demand for a division of votes, which was denied by the speaker.
• A constitutional crisis erupted in Arunachal Pradesh due to the inability of the speaker and the Tuki government to convene the assembly within six months of the previous session. President’s rule was imposed before Kalikho Pul, a rebel MLA of the Congress, took charge with support from the MLAs of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
• Much ink has been spilt over the propriety of using Article 356, but the role of constitutional functionaries has been given far less scrutiny.
• Both the above examples show the degradation in institutional morality engulfing the highest constitutional positions. The rot does not stop at Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh. The demand for a division of votes by some parties was denied while the BJP won the trust vote in Maharashtra under Devendra Fadnavis in November 2014.
• Even in the Lok Sabha, the decision of speaker Sumitra Mahajan to declare The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016, a money bill has come under a cloud of suspicion.
• In this context, the warning of B.R. Ambedkar was prescient: “However good a Constitution may be, if those who are implementing it are not good, it will prove to be bad.” Ambedkar had also hoped that Article 356—an acquisition from colonial times—would remain a dead letter.
• However, the political usage of this legal tool was rampant before the Supreme Court circumscribed the powers of the Union government in the landmark S.R. Bommai vs Union of India judgement in 1994. A verdict of the Supreme Court or a law on anti-defection can work to an extent and no further. Beyond it is the responsibility of the constitutional functionaries who have to implement the Constitution.
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