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Don't Erode Authority Of Institutions, President Tells Civil Society Activists

New Delhi, Aug 14: In an apparent reminder to civil society activists campaigning for a “strong” Lokpal, President Pratibha Patil said on Sunday there should be no effort consciously or unconsciously to erode the authority
PTI August 14, 2011 21:16 IST

New Delhi, Aug 14: In an apparent reminder to civil society activists campaigning for a “strong” Lokpal, President Pratibha Patil said on Sunday there should be no effort consciously or unconsciously to erode the authority and credibility of institutions like Parliament even as she wanted the cancer of corruption to be eliminated.

In the context of the campaign by social activists led by Anna Hazare for an all-encompassing Lokpal bill as the means to fight political and bureaucratic corruption, she said, “There cannot be just one panacea or remedy to deal with it (corruption) but a system of transparency and accountability should be put in place at various levels and then effectively enforced.”

“Credibility of institutions depends upon their conduct, which must be in accordance with the constitutional framework. We should strengthen them and their ability to take corrective actions, whenever required. There should be no no effort, consciously or otherwise, that will lead to the erosion of institutional credibility and authority,” Patil said in her Independence day-eve address to the nation.

The President's remarks assume significance in the context of debate over Hazare's campaign for a Lokpal Bill he feels is appropriate and the charge he was ignoring Parliament's authority over lawmaking.

Hazare is slated to go on an indefinite fast on August 16 in pursuit of a Lokpal that would cover the Prime Minister, higher judiciary and conduct of MPs in Parliament besides other provisions. He rejected the government bill which kept these institutions out of its purview.

Patil said Parliament represents people from all parts of the country and a broad spectrum of political thought.

“Its legislation is an outcome of collective thinking and application of minds. Many path-breaking laws have been made by Parliament of our country. New laws will also be formulated by legislative bodies. There can be discussions, debates, discourses among the people of the country for public opinion to emerge, which is an essential input in a true democracy.”

She said the different shades of opinion should be channelised, through elected representatives for formulation of necessary legislation. “We should not not forget that we have to preserve the democratic values of our country, and for this, healthy conventions of parliamentary procedures should be upheld.”

Hailing the initiatives of young MPs cutting across party lines to work on issues like malnutrition, Patil said there is possibility of other such issues which could be collectively addressed by Parliamentarians belong to all political parties.

On corruption, she said, it was a cancer affecting the nation's political, economic, cultural and social life and it was necessary to eliminate it.

“Government, Parliament, Judiciary and society at large, should ponder about this, and find out ways to handle it in a manner that is practical, implementable and sustainable.”

Making it clear there cannot be just one panacea for fighting corruption, the President said it would require preventive and punitive measures as well as adoption of rational approaches as the anti-corruption agenda is pursued.

“India is known for its sobriety and wisdom, balanced and sensible thinking,” she said and cited a Sanskrit shloka to assert anything in extreme should be avoided.

“We need strong institutions and we need good governance in the country. Our institutions need to be fortified and our governance constantly improved. We should analyse the situation and find considered solutions to address the challenges we are facing in a thoughtful manner,” the President said.

Patil said the constitution of the country has served well. “The institutions created by it - the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary - have been stable and have achieved much. The separation of powers, the elaborate system of checks and balances, have given our country a governance structure in which equilibrium is maintained, when every institution respects the field of responsibility of the others.”

“We can be proud that we all belong to a country, that has proved its greatness through values, which have found such a wide resonance.”

She said it was a moment of pride for the people of the country which proved its greatness through values and found such a wide resonance.

“We, as the inheritors of that great legacy, carry a responsibility to stand by truth and justice; to continue to conduct ourselves, in a manner that is in consonance, with India's standing, as a progressive and responsible country, where values of democracy, harmony and tolerance are deeply embedded,” she said.

The President said while the nation today stood at a threshold, there were many important issues needing focus and standing guard of not straying away from main objective.

“This is a time for introspection, a time to take well thought out measures, and to prepare well for the future. There have been occasions earlier, when confronted with many questions, we did find answers.The real strength of a nation is judged not by the challenges it faces, but by its responses.”

“Therefore, as we analyse, make policies, legislate, implement schemes and enforce laws, we must not, forget that the purpose of all our efforts is to move on the path of progress while ensuring that morals and ethics in our society do not get eroded,” she said. PTI