Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Vibrancy testing of democracy!

The importance of institutional check and balance came to the forefront. An overwhelming majority presence of the ruling party, a minuscule opposition and a newly organized Judiciary! For the common people with a little sensibility and just following the excerpts in the media from the constitution, it was always very clear that raising the tax without endorsement from the parliament is unconstitutional. No expert was needed to render that clarification. The constitution being the mother of all laws, would govern.

For the ruling party, I have no doubts in my mind that a genuine mistake was made although with good intent. A show of humility and respect for the constitution by simply accepting the mistake and tabling it for discussion during the next parliament session would have earned them a lot of respect from the people. But it was not to be, they instead chose the messy path, walking the path of the feigned and delusional understanding of the law. They have lost credibility and faith of the people by this act. I think they stuck to their guns even though they knew they were in the wrong, because they never expected the opposition to go to the Judiciary. I think the ruling party should have sensed the seriousness of the opposition when they demanded the resignation of Finance Minister.

For the opposition party, I think they risked everything. Having just two MP representation, a decision from the court in favor of the ruling party by whatever reasoning would have caused irreparable damage to their standing as opposition party. For they great risk that they took and for the outcome that came in their favor i can only say, well done, well done. You are executing your mandate well. The next time any serious issue crops up, I think the ruling party will now take you more seriously.

For the Judiciary, I think they got lucky. The first constitutional case that was presented to them was a straight forward case because of the stupidity of the ruling party. The judiciary has executed their role and ruled fairly. I hope this sets a precedence of the many judgments that will have to be passed to clarify the constitution. I say this because, i have a feeling that not many of us understand and comprehend the implications of what we endorse in the form of the constitution and the many acts.

What all this brings out is, we are all humans and the necessity of check and balance institutions is very very important. The legislative ( Ruling and the opposition), the judiciary and the executive are basic institutional set ups. More institutions are needed for check and balance for a vibrant democracy. The Anti-Corruption Commission seems to be in need of empowerment. Corruption is a major danger for any democracy, especially for a small country like ours. I also wish to see the National Council adopting more drastic measures than just exercising their votes for helping Bhutan become a vibrant democracy. God bless our nation!

Update : The ruling govt has appealed to the supreme court. Politicking is on. Lyonchens remark that the high court ruling is a very narrow interpretation is a smart comment. He wants the court to read more than whats written. He is asking the courts to be legislators! Its a pity. And in all probability, the supreme court will rise to the occasion and see the need to differentiate between direct taxes and indirect taxes. It sad, although the intent from both the ruling govt and the supreme court is for the larger good! I think it will be a sad case of the legislative and the judiciary not being able to function independently. It will again be a proof of the short commings of a small society, where every one knows or are related to each other. It will again bring out the challenge of democracy in a sparely populated small nation. God save us all!!!!!!!!

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