Context: The Supreme Court has said it will hear on February 17 a petition to evolve a mechanism for citizens to directly move Parliament and seek initiation of deliberations on issues highlighted by them.
About the Plea
- A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre and others to take steps to create an appropriate system which empowers citizens to petition Parliament and seek initiation of deliberations on issues highlighted by them
- The plea has sought a declaration that it is the fundamental right of citizens under Articles 14, 19(1)(a) and 21 of the Constitution to directly petition Parliament to seek initiation of a debate, discussion and deliberation on the issues highlighted by them in their petitions.
What is the need for the Mechanism to petition the Parliament
- An ordinary citizen of the country felt “disempowered” when it came to participation in the democratic process as after they cast their votes to elect representatives there was no scope for any further participation.
- The absence of this mechanism creates a void between elected representatives and the citizens.
- The people are disconnected from the law-making process. This distancing of the citizens to their inherent rights to fully participate in Indian democracy is a matter of concern
- The Current system does not fully allow citizens to initiate discussions in Parliament by moving appropriate petitions. Hence, if the framework is implemented, it will ensure that the grievances of citizens can be addressed in a proper manner by Parliament.
- The Citizens have a fundamental right to participate in democratic affairs and are constitutionally entitled to present workable and constructive suggestions to Parliament on matters of national importance so that public interest is appropriately safeguarded.
- This kind of mechanism is already in place in the United Kingdom, and it has been working for several years
The Right to petition Parliament
- Petitioning is a formal process that involves sending a written appeal to Parliament. The public can petition Parliament to make MPs aware of their opinion and/ or to request action.
- Anyone can petition Parliament. The only requirement is that petitions be submitted in the prescribed format, in either Hindi or English, and signed by the petitioner. In the case of Lok Sabha, the petition is normally required to be countersigned by an MP.
- Petitions can be sent to either House in respect of:
- Any Bills/ other matters that are pending before the House
- Any matter of general public interest relating to the work of the Central Government
- The petition should not raise matters that are currently sub-judice or for which remedy is already available under an existing law of the Central Government.
- A system by which the citizens can directly petition Parliament is already in place in the United Kingdom and it has been working well for several years