Address (Excerpts) by Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar, Honourable Vice President at closing ceremony of the 84th All India Presiding Officers' Conference at Maharashtra Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai, Maharashtra on January 28, 2024.

Mumbai, Maharashtra | January 28, 2024

Namaskar to all.

The spectacular celebration on January 26 on Kartavya Path revealed our exponential, phenomenal and all around growth, cutting edge of our woman power- that was a unique feature, technological prowess, depth of our culture and upbeat mood of the nation. It was ample manifestation of firm foundations of growth in Amrit Kaal ensuring Bharat@2047 will be a developed nation and global leader.

I would like to congratulate all participants for having adopted 5 very appropriate  resolutions.These resolutions, when implemented, will lay firm foundation of Bharat@2047. As I indicated,the resolution for effective functioning of legislative bodies  in accordance with letter and spirit of constitution will turn out to be very soothing to our people at large.

Capacity building of grassroot Panchayat Raj institution and urban local bodies to help strengthening the vibrant and ancient democratic ethos of our country will create human resource that will ably participate in legislature and in Parliament, particularly keeping in view  the pathbreaking  legislation providing for reservation to the extent  of ⅓  for women horizontally and vertically in Lok Sabha and state legislatures.

The third resolution- adoption and promotion of emerging technologies including artificial intelligence for improving efficiency transparency productivity and engagement with citizens.Disruptive technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning and the kind have entered our functional areas.We have to live with them. It is our obligation as legislators to provide for mechanism of regulating them.

The fourth resolution is to improve their effectiveness in enforcing accountability of the executive.Now this is the most important fundamental role of Legislature.They are ultimate impactful mechanism to bring about and effect transformational changes in executive by enforcing accountability.

And the last resolution is equally important as indicated by the Hon’ble Speaker, Shri Om Birla ji-  One Nation,One Legislative Platform - a dream  at of Hon’ble Prime Minister is required to be achieved because it will make institution people centric.It will bring about much proximity and their involvement.

We are the organizations that create law, at the state level and at the Central level.But we don't have the platform so far that will make available to the people at large, to the bureaucrats, to the lawyers, to the judges, the laws which we make. We are the most authentic platform to make available that mechanism to the people at large. They will get access to most authentic rules and the debates connected thereto.

I am grateful to the Speaker Lok Sabha, Shri Om Birla ji on having devises a mechanism that on the Parliament website, we will have all the laws made by Parliament, all the rules, the work is in progress and it is a matter of time. It will help my fraternity of lawyers and judges, it will help legislators and legislators will get great assistance because what he has devised is not only making of law but the debate connected thereto.If you can get all these things in one place, you can imagine the contribution of our legislators will improve massively.

A strong democracy thrives not just on sounds principles but on leaders, commitment upholding them.As presiding officers, we bear the responsibility to be the guardian of the democratic pillars, our duties to ensure the legislative process be meaningful, accountable, effective and transparent giving voice to the people.

Discipline and decorum in legislatures has been a deep concern of people and a recurring topic of discussion in various time zones. Yet it is unfortunate that incidences of indiscipline and unbecoming demeanor in our legislatures are on the rise and they are on the incremental trajectory to the pain of the people at large, whose public servant we all are here. This is an extremely disturbing situation and calls for greater introspection amongst all stakeholders to find a way out of it. The decline of this trend, of which we all are stakeholders, you are in drivers’ seat. The enormity of this decline is rendering legislatures irrelevant.

Legislature is the most impactful platform for reflection of all shades of opinions.People from all over the states, of the country come… they bring on table various points of view.There is need to be receptive to the other point of you. If you don't give attention to other points of view in these platforms, where will be the properoccasion.Consideration the points of difference is essential. It is in your judgement for discretion to accept it or not, but not to land ears to others point of view, the point to which you do not agree to, is not appropriate. It devalues the democratic mechanism.

The scenario at present is that debates have been reduced to quarrels. we are missing the debates, they are just not there. This is a very painful scenario.Emergence of this ecosystem is a debilitating our parliamentary democracy. How disgustful and painful for the public. Look at the people outside, they elect us, they have expectation from us, they want their aspiration to be realised through us. And look at how painful it is for them, the spectacle when someone engages in disruption and then all the more painful is they take pride in the disruption. How can we witness and countenance such kind of degeneration and respect such unbecoming conduct.

Disruption and disturbance is no less than covid menace to democracy. As a consequence of this menacing trend both productivity and quality of contributions are virtually nosediving.

When legislators engage in disruptive and unruly conduct within the hallowed precincts of legislative bodies, it leads to subtle erosion of faith in the institutions created by the Constitution that is nectar of democracy.

The erosion of public trust in their representative bodies or for that matter their representatives is, perhaps, the most worrisome thing which should engage the utmost attention of the political class of the country.

Disruption in legislatures is cancerous not only for legislatures but also for democracy and society. Curbing it is not optional but absolute necessity to save sanctity of legislature. No time is left we are perhaps cliffhanging and we need to awaken ourselves. It is alarmingly worrisome that disruption and disturbance in Legislatures- temples of democracy, have assumed monstrous dimensions posing existential challenge to these institutions.

Friends, whose behest placards are printed and slogans coined. This political weaponry is counterproductive and has no place in our system. It is antithetical and disasters  for democratic values.

It’s time for legislature to engage in stock taking and perhaps this is the last time because the executive of this country is performing exponential. Phenomenal growth is seen all around. The world is applauding our governance but when it comes to legislature we must see the writing on the wall - notice its dwindling impact and respect in society.

Agitations on streets are indicative of lack of faith in legislatures. What is being debated on streets is our agenda. We are the most authentic platform to discuss the issues being faced by the people at large. As a matter of fact, agitations are byproduct of our failure to make constitutional  institutions dysfunctional.

I have always drawn inspiration from constituent assembly.Friends, constituent assembly was made for 3 years, had several sessions, they were faced with very contentious divisive issues.It was difficult to come at same level but they negotiated by conscious debate, dialogue and deliberations. There was not a single disruption, not to speak of placard or coming to violence. If we take pride in our constitution, why should we not draw light from the kind of conduct they exhibited.

I urge through this platform, to all legislators in the country to emulate highest standard set by our founding fathers for holding meaningful purposeful and constructive debates in constituent assembly.

High time for Presiding Officers to invoke their authority to ensure discipline and decorum as lack of these is virtually shaking the very foundations of Legislatures. If the child in the family is not a adhering to the decorum, discipline, he has to be disciplined, discipline to the pain of the person disciplining. We have to nurture these institution we have to ensure that optimal performance of these Institution and therefore not hesitate to deal with indiscipline and indecorous conduct. Our resolve should be to have zero accommodation for disturbance and disruption.

I Appeal to people at large and from this platform, taking place in financial places in the country , and in particular the media and intelligentsia please sensitize your public representatives. People have a great role, intelligentsia has a great role.  Media has great role. Their response would be most effective disciplining mechanism for those who are rendering legislatures dysfunction.

Through you all, I appeal to Legislators to be a abreast of change taking all around. Engage in capacity building. They must be inspiration and motivation to other by their exemplary actions. I am happy to note that Lok Sabha Rajya Sabha and legislators have taken initiative to adopt technology but we sometimes find members insisting that apart from the technology, we must continue with the earlier mechanism also. We must hand hold such members, we must provide mechanism to those members and we must fast head towards paperless working.

To ensure blossoming and flowering of democracy, I call upon the legislators and parliamentarians to believe in 4 Ds, The 4 Ds are  - Dialogue, Debate, Decorum and Deliberations and to keep away the maximum distance from 2 Ds - Disturbance and Disruption.

I leave you with a thought, the sage advice of first President of India, Dr.Rajendra Prasad:

“Opinions will and must differ in regard to many political and economic matters, but if the good of India and her people is our dominant urge, and we realise, as we must, that this good can only be achieved through the methods of peaceful cooperation and democratic processes, then these differences can only add to the richness of our public life.”

I appeal, our Indian  constitution as is being brought to the notice of everyone, is not the one which was signed by our founding fathers. The constitution has amendments, they must be added to it. Why should our people not know about 22 paintings that are integral part of Indian constitution signed by founding father of the Constitution.

I look at Shivaji and he is there in one of the parts of the Indian Constitution dealing with the elections.We have Ram, Sita andLakshman in  Part 3 related to fundamental rights.We have Lord Krishna and Arjun on discourse of Geeta in Kurukshetra and many more… Guru Gobind Singh ji, our Jain Tirthankara ji, and many are there.Our 5000 years’ depth of civilization is reflected in those 22 paintings.So I urge to all the Hon’ble Speakers to take steps to make available, to begin with all the members of legislative assemblies, a constitution that carries all the amendments up to date and 22 paintings.