Public Interest

India’s lawmakers, busy abusing authority, have sanctified the colonial rule by retaining most of its exploitative laws and procedural manuals, many even of the nineteenth century. Most laws made after independence, including the panchayati raj amendments too are based on the colonial idiom that the state is best, knows best and people, being unreliable and untrustworthy, need to be ruled.

The lawmakers cannot be expected to do better now under coalition politics. The only way out is to seek orders from the sovereign people through referendums. To facilitate this, an institutional mechanism for directing referendums is needed. To avoid wasteful expenditure, the existing Law Commissions at the union and state levels can be upgraded to independent Sovereign Rights Commissions with authority to direct referendums except on issues fundamental to democracy or the integrity of the nation.

According to Justice MN Venkatachaliah, referendum is the supreme sovereign right of the people, intrinsic to democracy, and exists even if not specifically provided for in a constitution. The people can approach the superior courts seeking a writ directing a referendum on thus upgrading the Law Commissions. Being an intrinsic sovereign right of the people, the courts have jurisdiction to issue such a writ. If the courts hold that they have no jurisdiction, it would imply that the sovereign people, rendered impotent, must only suffer abuse. A Constitution that makes the sovereign impotent is bad law.



A few corrupt self-seekers benefit from the existing illegitimate system. The harm to the nation in human degradation and loss of top soil, ground water and forest cover is mind boggling. The courts must act.


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