Interference with Autonomy of Democratic Institutions is a Threat to Democracy

Any country’s claim of having a democratic form of government is subject to the extent of division of power in the system and the strength of independence in functioning of the democratic institutions. These institutions are the pillars which keep the soul of the democracy alive, their independence give a sense hope to the citizens, that their interest will not be compromised for the sake of anyone’s political ambition. However, there are instances when the conflict of interest arises between the government and the institutions. That is the instance when the government in power makes the attempt to weaken the autonomy of such institutions as per its whims and fancies, in order to obtain the political gain. Eventually it results in causing disturbance to the very fundamental structure of the democratic system.

In the recent times, we have seen many instances where the governments have made the attempt to disturb the functionality of several democratic and autonomous institutions. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has already been termed as a ‘caged parrot’ by the Supreme Court and now again during the power tussle between the two top most officials in CBI, the Apex Court had to warn the government not to interfere with autonomy of CBI.

Similar is the situation with the autonomy of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and Election Commission of India (ECI), other two very prominent democratic and autonomous institutions of India. In RBI, the disputes of the government with former governor Mr. Raghuram Rajan to the recent disputes with Mr. Urjit Patel, another recent former governor have already diminished the image of the RBI in the mainstream media. It was not over that the recent news flourished through limelight when Mr. Shaktikanta Das was appointed as the new governor of the RBI and the news headline appeared “India’s central bank board meets with new worries about autonomy” on Economic Times of 14th December, 2018.

Moreover, the speculations regarding the autonomy of the election commission are on the similar line as of CBI and RBI and many prominent scholars have shown their concern for the same that it has become mere agent of the government.      

In order to reinstate the faith in these institutions, the urgent reforms are necessary. Therefore in order to achieve the same, these institutions must be made more independent in their functioning and their autonomy should not be compromised for the sake of any individual or political party at any point of time.

To attain the same goal, there are few steps which are essential and needed to be taken effectively. The most important step is with respect to appointment and removal of the officials in these institutions, that it must be done judiciously and with utmost transparency. Therefore, the bodies constituted for appointment and removal of the officials should include only the prominent persons and should also have the representation of every democratic body; such as the Government and Opposition as well.     

Perhaps, these measures will only keep the faith of the people in democratic institutions alive.   

Author: Vishal Soni , Intern at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. In case of any  queries please contact/write back to us at rishabh@khuranaandkhurana.com

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