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Democratization in Law-Making

INTRODUCTION

India is a democratic country; therefore, the people of the country are its superheroes. The government, constitution, laws, and others, as such, all exist for the people and by the people. So, laws are meant for the citizens of the country, and they can be shaped by the people. In India, the law-making process is carried on by the central or union government for the whole country and by each state government for each state, as well as the local municipal councils and districts for their respective districts. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha are India’s two legislative houses, and for a law to be passed in India, it must pass through the two legislative houses of the parliament of India. A bill is used to present legislative proposals to either house of the Indian Parliament.

 A bill is a draught legislative proposal that, after being approved by both chambers of parliament and the president, becomes law. A law is not passed or enforced as such. It is first crafted as a bill by the legislative houses, and before it is enforced or passed, the bill must be passed or approved by both houses. A bill is a drafted legislative proposal that, after being approved by both chambers of parliament and the president, becomes law. After the bill has been drafted, it must be publicized in the newspapers and the people must be given a democratic opportunity to comment. The legislature must adopt a bill before it becomes a law, and in most situations, the administration must also approve it. A bill is referred to as an act of the legislature or a statute once it has been made into law. The President can assent, withhold assent, and send the measure back for consideration, and he can also sit on it if both houses of Congress concur. The bill then passes both houses if they agree. The president will then sign this agreed-upon bill into law, making it applicable throughout the country. 

DEMOCRATIZATION IN LAW-MAKING       

As a democratic country, there must be public participation in the law-making process. As a democratic country, there must not only be the right to franchise and elect their representative but the people must also participate in the law-making process. In the democratization of law-making, the central government must publish the details of the legislation. The drafted bill must contain the provisions, its impact on the environment and the lives of the affected people. The public must be given 30 days to comment. Comments are submitted to the parliamentary standing committee to amend the necessary provisions in the bill to make the bill people-friendly.

THE PRE-LEGISLATIVE CONSULTATION POLICY

The Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy was developed by the Central Government in 2014. This policy gives individuals like you and me the opportunity to participate in the drafting of laws before it is to made or enforced as law in our country. According to this policy, the government must give a chance to all the people of the country to participate in the process of law-making so that the law made by the government is for all. Since the law made by the government will be for the good of the public and since the people themselves are involved in the law-making process, the law made will not be violated on a large scale and will be followed by the majority of the population. This ideology of law-making is successfully achieved by the government publishing the proposals made by the legislative assembly to the general public to receive their feedback on any draught or proposed legislation for at least 30 days. Public consultation is the procedure where you inform the government of your opinions on how a policy might affect you.

These requests for comment must include the proposed legislation or at the very least information about it, such as its financial ramifications and effects on the environment, citizens’ lives and livelihoods, and their fundamental rights. The main objective of the Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy is to assist citizens in legitimate and expanding demands for more transparency from the government. This policy is considered to be the most effective tool for citizens to participate in the process of law-making in our country in a democratic manner.

It is important that laws be drafted in a democratic form. In the first place, we, the people, elect our representatives and they make the laws for us in parliament, and we the people play a crucial role in shaping those laws made by them. They also ensure that the final policy or law drafted is relevant and serves the people for whom it was drafted.

It is essential that we have policy tools like PLP in a nation like ours with such a wide range of interests so that all groups feel as though their opinions are given the proper respect and recognition. To make sure that the government receives useful suggestions from those whose lives will be impacted by its laws, consultation with the pertinent stakeholders is essential.

The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill of 2017, which forbids the practice of triple talaq, is a clear illustration of this. The appropriate organizations weren’t appropriately contacted before the measure was enacted. One of the many errors in the bill is that triple talaq was stated as a cognizable offence. Another alarming development is that the police were given the right to hold Muslim men without any judicial review or inquiry into whether the subject actually warranted detention. In essence, this meant that the rules were still in effect even though neither spouse had filed a formal complaint. Additionally, the government did not draught the measure after engaging with concerned representatives of civil society, such as advocates for women’s rights, defence attorneys, or even Muslims. In this case, the bill or the law passed by the legislative assembly would have been drafted more effectively if a pre-legislative consultative procedure had been used

The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, which drastically curtailed the rights of transgender people as recognized in the seminal case of NALSA v. Union of India1, serves as another illustration of how the government neglected to engage with concerned community members. The transgender community essentially rejected the Bill outright because they felt it was not in their best interests because it was not adequately discussed and consulted with during the bill’s development. In short, the Bill incorrectly lumps intersex people and transgender people together, seeing them as interchangeable, and it neglected to adequately address significant issues at the time, like the repeal of Section 377 of the IPC. It also did not respond to the Trans community’s widespread call for inclusive marital and inheritance rules. Another grievous omission was the failure to gender-neutralize offences in order to properly exclude members of the transgender community. In this instance, much more effective legislation could have been drafted if a pre-legislative consultative procedure had been used, in which the Trans community had been properly informed and consulted before the Bill was drafted.

Kerala has set an example for Pre Legislative Consultation Policy. In Kerala, the state ensures public participation to draft its police law. The draft bill was placed on the Kerala police website inviting feedback from the public at large. When the draft bill was introduced in the house at that time there was a district-level town hall meeting. A select Committee was set up and amendments were made which included people-friendly provisions. And Kerala Police Act was passed.

CONCLUSION

There will be effective law-making only when the public also participates in the law-making process. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has emphasized that public participation in law-making is vital for the functioning of the law-making process. The policy-making and law-making process should be available in regional language also so that the people would understand the law and suggest some changes in the law.  Public comment is essential and necessary changes should also be made by the legislature. Our country should develop a social audit legislation wherein there must be a legal obligation on policymakers to consult the public.  


CITATIONS

1. SC Writ Petition (Civil) No. 400 of 2012

This article is written by Sree Lekshmi B J; third year law student from Sastra University, Thanjavur.

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