Right To Recall – Can this clean up the Indian Political System?

In Indian democracy, the term of an MP or an MLA is 5 years (the term of the house). There exists no recourse for the electorate if they are unhappy with their elected representative. What if they have a right to recall legislators before the end of the term?

What is Right to Recall?

Recall refers to the condition when a person who has been elected be removed from his office before the end of his term by a direct vote.

Right to Recall (RTR) confers the electorate a right of recall that can be initiated by any elector within a particular constituency through a recall petition signed by not less than one-fourth of the total number of electors. It is found in many contemporary constitutions. Canada and the US also allow the right to recall on grounds of misfeasance and misconduct.

Should we recall the representatives we elected?

There are numerous instances in India which could demonstrate the said proposition, for instance:

1. Sri Prakash Jaiswal has openly rejected the findings of the CAG report on the coal-gate scam.
2. Vilasrao Deshmukh has allegedly been involved in the infamous Adarsh Society scam.
3. A. Raja had engaged in massive corruption during the allocation of 2G-spectrum etc.
It this backdrop, there has been a wide-spread demand to have a right to recall or a right to de-elect our elected representatives.

The progress of ‘Right to Recall’ in India

  • In 2016, Varun Gandhi introduced ‘The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill‘ in Lok Sabha to recall MPs, MLAs for the non-performance. However, the concept of Right to Recall was not a new one in India.
  • The concept of “Rajdharma” during the Vedic times is similar to the concept of Right to Recall. In this system, the king was removed when there is a lack of effective governance.
  • In 1944, M.N. Roy proposed the decentralisation and devolution of governance which will allow for the election and recall of representatives.
  • The ‘Right to recall’ was stated by Somnath Chatterjee when he said that it can be used for accountability purposes.
  • The Representation of Peoples Act (RPA) 1951 talks about Right to Recall. RPA does not account the ground of incompetence or the dissatisfaction of the electorate as the ground for recall and vacation. It only provides for the vacation of the office upon the commission of the certain offence.
  • Right to recall exists in the local bodies of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.

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