The Madras High Court recently opined that although a Westminister style of government may have been envisaged for India by its Constitution, some governments are seen to be running on a presidential basis, as in the United States, with a single person or a few persons exercising real authority (S Surya Moorthi v. Union of India).
The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy was dealing with a petition seeking directions so that all recognised political parties in Tamil Nadu first complete their internal party elections before the Assembly Elections this year.
“It may not have been in the contemplation of the Constitution-makers that though the form of government both at the Centre and in the States was fashioned after the Westminister style, in fact, some of them would be run on the presidential basis as in the United States with a single person or a few persons exercising real authority. It is plain to see in certain cases that the collective authority or the collective wisdom that the Constitution envisages governments to be run by, may not be effected even in letter, far less in spirit,” the Court noted.
The plea was, however, dismissed as infructuous since the Assembly Polls had already been conducted on April 6. All the same, the Court opined that there is some basis to the petition.
“If nothing else, the sentiment expressed by the petitioner needs to be respected”, the Court said.
The Court also took on record the petitioner’s concern that a democratic process of election, as envisaged by the Constitution, cannot be meaningful without the political parties participating thereat embracing the democratic ethos and completing their internal elections in the first place.
The Constitution is silent on the nature and qualification of the political parties which put up candidates for election to legislative bodies, the Bench added.
While disposing of the plea as infructuous, the Court observed that the petitioner is free to press his concerns at a more appropriate stage.
“The petitioner’s sentiment must be respected as it reveals the highest regard for democratic principles. Nothing in this order should be regarded as a rejection of the contentions raised by the petitioner,” the Bench added.