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President cautions government against using the ordinance route

President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday cautioned the government against using the ordinance route to bring in a law. He advised that it should only be used in a compelling situation and not taken recourse to in monetary matters. At his farewell function, stressing on the importance of dissent and debate, he urged the Opposition not to disrupt proceedings in the two Houses as it took away from it the “opportunity to raise people’s concerns”. “I am of the firm opinion that the ordinance route should be used only in compelling circumstances and there should be no recourse to ordinances on monetary matters,” he said.

The hour-long function was attended by vice-president Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and H.D. Deve Gowda, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other Union ministers, MPs and political leaders.

Mr Mukherjee said the ordinance route should not be taken on matters which are being considered or have been introduced in Parliament or pending before a House committee.

“If a matter is deemed urgent, the committee concerned should be made aware of the situation and should be mandated to present its report within a stipulated time,” he said.

The president’s remarks bear significance as after repeatedly failing to amend the Enemy Property Act, 1968 in last three years, the Modi government had promulgated five ordinances. The Bill was passed by the Parliament in March.

Senior Union ministers were reportedly deputed to convince the President to sign the fourth and fifth enemy property ordinances as he was against promulgating them.

Mr Mukherjee said he was “greatly benefited” from the advice and cooperation extended by Mr Modi at “every step”. “With passion and energy, he (Modi) is driving transformational changes in the country. I will carry with (me) fond memories of our association and his warm and courteous behaviour,” he said.

The outgoing president, who will demit office on Tuesday, said he was “mentored” by late prime minister Indira Gandhi whose “steely determination, clarity of thought and decisive action made her a towering personality”. He said she never hesitated to call a spade a spade. Mr Mukherjee recalled during a visit to London with Gandhi after the Emergency, she had told journalists, “In those 21 months, we comprehensively managed to alienate all sections of Indian people.”

Recalling his days as a member of Parliament, which he entered in 1969 as Rajya Sabha member, Mr Mukherjee said by listening to stalwarts in the Treasury and opposition benches, he understood the real value of debate, discussion and dissent.

“I realised how disruption hurts the Opposition more than the government as it denies it the opportunity to raise the concerns of the people,” he said. Ms Mahajan said Mr Mukherjee is respected for his impeccable knowledge of constitutional and parliamentary rules and procedures and exemplary memory of events and precedents.

“You have been a ‘guru’ from whom generations of parliamentarians have received lessons on the operational dynamics of our parliamentary polity,” she said.

Ms Mahajan said the President’s admirable administrative acumen and efficiency have played pivotal roles in shaping appropriate responses to various momentous events and challenges before the nation at large.

Lauding Mr Mukherjee’s contributions,  vice-president Ansari said his views and pronouncements on issues of national and international importance have enhanced the stature of the high offices held by him.

“From the highest pedestal, he has, on several occasions, urged citizens to rededicate themselves to the cause of upholding the democratic values. He has spoken with conviction about India’s pluralism and diversity being her greatest strength and the need to constantly nurture and protect them,” he said. Mr Mukherjee was presented a coffee-table book by the Speaker on behalf of the MPs. Later, Mr Mukherjee attended a high-tea at the Parliament House.

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