Updated: January 24, 2015 12:00:09 am
The Union government’s U-turn on the need to revisit Section 66A of the Information Technology Act is disappointing — it now apparently feels that the section is fine as it is and that there is no need for additional safeguards. Section 66A of the IT Act militates against the very values and principles that define and create a vibrant democracy like ours. The blatant misuse of its provisions by the state authorities with an intent to muzzle dissent is cause for great concern. Such a draconian provision, which arbitrarily curbs the right to freedom of speech and expression should be repealed sooner than later. The Narendra Modi government must remember that good governance means safeguarding civil liberties and freedoms.
— M. Jeyaram, Sholavandan
This refer to ‘Panel moots smaller food security net, cash transfers’ (IE, January 22). Various studies have shown that it is not “end to end computerisation” or Aadhaar-based cash transfer, which the panel has recommended, that can reduce leakages from the public distribution system. Universalisation of the PDS is the only way to check leakages. The panel seems to be misled by flawed assumptions about how the PDS works on the ground. Besides, excluding crores of people from the net of food security will not be possible through executive fiat. Parliament’s consent would be required. Stalwarts of the BJP had strongly advocated universalisation of food security when they were in the Opposition. Will the Narendra Modi government now bring in another ordinance to kill the food security act?
— Dheeraj Kumar, Ranchi
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In bad faith
This refers to ‘It’s no ordinance raj’ by P.D.T. Achary (IE, January 22). While it may seem that the promulgation of the ordinances was inevitable, given the circumstances in Parliament — this is what Achary argues — pressing questions remain. In a parliamentary democracy, it is the constitutional as well as moral responsibility of the executive to build consensus in the legislature on important public issues. This is time-consuming hard work but essential in a democracy. Bypassing debate violates the very spirit of the Indian state. Moreover, Article 123, like Article 356 on president’s rule, was meant to be used extremely rarely. It has the potential to be misused, just as Article 356 was in the pre-coalition era. At best, these ordinances were attempts to signal the new regime’s “seriousness” and “commitment” to economic reforms. But serious investor participation based on temporary ordinances seems highly unlikely.
— Abhinav Garg, Kurukshetra
While I appreciate the merits of Achary’s arguments to justify the government’s ordinances, we would do well to remember the example set by those who are now running the government when they were in the Opposition. For five years, they stalled the functioning of Parliament without rhyme or reason. They heckled, howled and jumped into the well of the House, forcing commentators to wonder whether they thought they would never come to power. But every dog has his day.
— Peter Mundackal, Delhi
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