NEW DELHI, India: Giani Zail Singh may send the letter he had written to Rajiv Gandhi in the form of a message to Parliament if the Prime Minister does not make amends to what he has done to marginalize the President. The Prime Minister’s reply is considered vague and has no reference to the points made by the President. According to a noted Indian journalist Kuldip Nayyar, Giani Zail Singh is keen on ensuring that the institution of President ship does not suffer because of the insinuations and attacks made on him and his office. Thus far, the government has been trying to avoid the public discussion. Now the President may approach the Parliament. Under Article 86 (2) of the Constitution President is authorized to send messages regarding bills or otherwise to the Upper House or the Parliament. The House to which messages are sent have to take it into consideration, In this regard Giani intends to reduce the letter to a message to the Lok Sabha. Then Balram Jakhar will not be able to stall a discussion as he has done so far on the plea that he would not allow any discussion on the President.
The government policy appears to be to bar discussion on the letter and allow the storm to blow over. The earlier letters of protest by the President generally remained unanswered. This may not work this time because the President, exasperated by the devaluation of his office, may not leave the matter at that. Moreover the Opposition parties are now more vocal about the differences between the President and the Prime Minister, something which was talked in whispers till recently. Apart from the differences, the Opposition parties may concentrate on motion of privilege against the Prime Minister for misleading the House. The Prime Minister said in the Parliament, “Let me make it clear in the House that from no point of Constitution have we deviated at any time. Whenever there has been issue of national interest there has been no question of not keeping the President informed or briefed”.
However, the President in his letter has said “The factual position is at variance with whatever
has been stated by you in the Parliament”, He has been constrained to say that certain established traditions and conventions have not been followed. Giani Zail Singh has given instances how he has been ignored even on certain very important issues. I have not been kept informed. On matters related to Accord finalization with Assam, Punjab and Mizoram, I have not been briefed at any stage. On the other hand when I asked you to meet me after may visit to Jammau and Kashmir, there was no response from you. The Opposition may also pressurize the government to place the letter on the table of the House.
If the Opposition succeeds the debate in the Parliament cannot be stopped, however, the government’s legal pundits are busy in finding out whether it is in President’s power to send a message to Parliament or it is dependent on the approval of Council of Ministers. What the Prime Minister does not seem to realize is that according to Kuldip Nayyar, President may insist on addressing Parliament if other avenues are blocked to him.
Article extracted from this publication >> March 27, 1987