New Delhi, Dec 9:
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu Saturday expressed grave concern over a large number of criminal cases pending against politicians and said these should be fast-tracked.
At the launch of two volumes of select speeches of President Ram Nath Kovind here, Naidu also said there has been a “steady decline” in the quality of public discourse over the last few years and appealed to political parties to evolve a consensus on the code of conduct for their members.
“We must ensure that cases against politicians should be fast-tracked. It is indeed a matter of grave concern that there are nearly 4,000 cases pending against politicians. Special courts should be constituted and the process should be expedited,” he said.
Corrective action is required to make our system even better than what it is today – that is essential for strengthening democracy, he added.
The Supreme Court was on Tuesday informed that there were 4,122 criminal cases pending, some for over three decades, against present and former members of Parliament and legislative assemblies.
The vice president also stressed the need to have a clean polity with an “unwavering commitment to constitutional morality”.
“Public representatives should have character, caliber, conduct, and capacity. It is unfortunate that the quality of public discourse has been steadily declining over the last few years. This must not be allowed to persist. We should all remember that we are all in public life… we are rivals and not enemies,” he said.
“Political parties must evolve a consensus on the code of conduct for their members, both inside the legislature and outside it. Otherwise, people might soon lose faith in our political processes and institutions,” he said.
Naidu also emphasised the need to have more persons in leadership positions who are mindful of not only of “constitutional morality but also of institutional dignity and individual integrity”.
He said that the anti-defection law needed to be implemented in letter and spirit and with sincerity.
“If a member desires to change the party, he must do so by resigning from the membership of the House. The anti-defection law should be implemented within three months. I know that this is absolutely feasible since I could dispose of the petitions that I received within this timeframe,” Naidu said.
Since the integrity of the election process is essential for a healthy democracy, it would be ideal if the judiciary can expedite the decisions on election petitions. If needed, special courts could be set up for dealing with election petitions, he said.
The two books Naidu launched are “The Republican Ethic”, a collection of 95 select speeches out of the total 243 made by the President in the first year in office, and “Loktantra Ke Swar”, a collection of 109 speeches in Hindi.
“The Republican Ethic” is an invaluable collection of the President’s reflections on a host of contemporary challenges and issues confronting India and the world, he said.
“We have to realise the strength within each one of us and get our act together. We must usher in a new era of social, economic and cultural transformation where we move away from ‘dreary desert sands of dead habit’. That’s the message that comes across from the President’s speeches,” Naidu said.