ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Ordinance Raj

The frequent promulgation of ordinances is detrimental for a constitutional democracy.


The issue of the misuse of ordinances has once again come in the public eye in the specific context of the three farm laws. These laws, affecting the lives and livelihoods of more than half of India’s people, were passed by way of ordinance, and now, in the face of strong protests, they have been repealed. Though parliamentary approvals were sought and received for these laws eventually, the whole episode has revealed something disturbing about the state of India’s democracy.

The ordinance-making power in the Constitution is not a necessary feature of the Westminster form of parliamentary democracy that India has adopted. It is a relic of the Government of India Act, 1935 that was nonetheless retained by the Constituent Assembly. While sufficient safeguards were introduced into the Constitution to try and ensure that such ordinances do not become the default mode of lawmaking, the experience of the Indian republic since 1950 has suggested that even these measures have not had the intended effect on the political executive.

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Updated On : 18th Dec, 2021
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