ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Constitutional Reform

The categorical assurance that the 'basic structure' of the Constitution would not be altered and the largely non-partisan and distinguished composition of the Review Committee have now cleared the decks for an informed public discourse on constitutional reforms. Some areas and issues which deserve urgent attention.

Two aspects of the government’s announcement of the projected constitutional review have generally helped in silencing its critics, paranoid about another potential ‘hidden agenda’: (i) the unequivocal assertion that the ‘basic structure’, as indicated in the Supreme Court judgment on the Keshavananda Bharati case, would not be altered; and (ii) the composition of the Review Committee, largely consisting of non-partisan, distinguished, legal luminaries. While the first foreclosed the banal periodic debate around the parliamentary vs presidential form in India, the latter silenced those haunted by the ghost of the ‘Sangh parivar’ in any policy reform of the present regime pertaining to governance. This has cleared the decks for a more informed public discourse to supplement the formal review process.

The present Review Committee, though consisting of members with more modest public profile than the members of the Constituent Assembly, have a set of relative advantages over the illustrious ‘Founding Fathers’ of our Republican Constitution. Firstly, the present committee has the advantage of empirical experience of the last 50 years of the operation of the Constitution to be able to distinguish between its various functional, semi-functional, non-functional, and dysfunctional provisions. Secondly, they have a much wider variety of comparable experiences to draw upon than simply the Anglo-Saxon experience which broadly blinkered the vision of the Founding Fathers.

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