The predecessor to the present President has cautioned the government to avoid the ordinance route. An ordinance-making power is the most important legislative power of the President. When both the Houses of Parliament are not in session, the President has the power to promulgate an ordinance. The ordinances issued by him will have the same force as an act of Parliament.
The ordinance has to be laid before the both Houses of Parliament and shall cease to operate at the expiry of six weeks from the date of the re-assembly of Parliament. Governments in power, in order to satisfy the public ( poll promises) and also to get rid of the resistance offered by the Opposition, resort to ordinance route.
When the Opposition in the parliament becomes unruly, non-cooperative and when the urgency of the legislation is ignored, the ruling party takes the ‘ordinance route’ to make a law. Though the Constitution says the ‘satisfaction’ of the President is enough for promulgating an ordinance, it is always the satisfaction of the Cabinet on whose advice the president exercises his ordinance-making power.
It is to be noted that in no other country the Executive (directly or indirectly elected) is vested with this legislative power. Ordinance-making power of the President, if used frequently, will undermine the legislative work of the parliament.
In the normal course, it is good for a piece of legislation to go through the process of being discussed in both the Houses of Parliament and finally, to the President for his assent.
Any piece of legislation should be discussed threadbare by both houses so that the public would come to know the pros and cons of legislation. There must be sufficient time for the public also to express their opinion to the Bills that are being considered by the Parliament. The tendency of any party that comes to power is to make legislation quickly into law (and takes the ordinance route).
Ours is a parliamentary democracy in which the Parliament is supreme as far as legislation is concerned. It is often said the British Parliament has all the powers, except to make a man a woman and woman a man. It is the Parliament which has to correct itself when it errs. So the parliamentary debates are important, so that the details of the legislation are made known to all and particularly to the general public.
When the laws are passed, they do have flaws and this is due to a lack of discussion on the Bill in the Parliament. It is better to avoid the ordinance route (except during extraordinary situations) and to invest time in the debates on the legislation, so that laws are enacted with care, concern and clarity.
— The writer is a political analyst