I would like to say that the Chief Justice of India will be assisted by his seniormost judges to assess the merit of the candidate. They have also said merit should be the predominant consideration in the appointment of judges.

18.00 hrs.

Now we talk about the Mandal Commission; we talk about the representation of the Scheduled Castes. This judgement has taken out all your rights. Merit alone can be considered in the matter of appointment of the judgements of the Supreme Court. Now, there is no Scheduled Caste judge in the Supreme Court because of this judgement. It was not brought to the notice of this House and it was not stoutly opposed by any Member of Parliament on the floor of the House immediately after this judgement was delivered last year. Last year I was not in this House. Sir, this judgement needs a review. If the Government is interested in protecting the interest of the backward classes and the Scheduled Castes in the matter of appointment of judges in the High Court and the Supreme Court, it needs review.

Then, paragraph 41 of the President's Address says:

"The canker of corruption is eating into every institution of our nation. Government is determined to ensure probity in public life. ..."

I think, the Minister of Home Affairs will be knowing about the judgement in regard to the hawala case passed on 18th December 1997. For the last one year this judgement had not been weighed by the Government. It was not appraised, it was not assessed, it was not examined at all. In that judgement, the Supreme Court had set seven principles of public life. One is selflessness. The holders of public office should take a decision solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefit for themselves, their family or their friends. The other principles are: integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness and honesty.

I would like to stress another point. In the very same judgement, it was mentioned that the Central Government should appoint immediately the Central Vigilance Commissioner to recommend the appointment of the CBI Director or the Director of Enforcement. This judgement was not at all looked into. So, I would like to say that this Government, for the last 13 months--whether they were functioning under the Government of laws or of men--had not looked at this judgement. These matters should have been placed before the House. Then only, public at large would have been benefited.

As far as untouchability is concerned, the Members of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and also backward classes raised the issue that the practice of atrocities on Harijans is wide in the villages. Under article 17, as early as in 1950, untouchability was abolished but in practice, it is being followed. Untouchability was abolished under article 17 but it is being practised.

Now, in a Cabinet form of Government, the Parliamentary Executive has to assist the President in the matter of running the administration. All the Orders and Instruments are issued in the name of the President. Under clause 3 of article 75, it is a collective responsibility. The delay in disposal of cases leads to injustice. Travelling from Kanyakumari to Delhi for a poor litigant would also defeat justice. Under article 130, the Supreme Court shall sit in Delhi or in other places as the President may from time to time determine.

I urge before this Lok Sabha to consider this. The Home Minister is here. Let him recommend to the President to establish a Bench of the Supreme Court in the South, either in Bangalore or in Chennai, to have an easy access to the Supreme Court. Why should a poor litigant travel from Kanyakumari to Delhi to get a small Stay Order or to enter a caveat or a bail application. For the last 13 months, whether the Government acted in accordance with the Constitution or under the law is in question. When I cited these two judgements, I would like to remind about the oath taken by the Ministers. They take oath as "I will discharge my duties without fear or favour or affection or ill-will. I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established." But as far as the judge is concerned, the oath will be "I will uphold the Constitution and the Law." It is an addition. Did you see that they upheld article 270? Did you see that they upheld article 124, upholding constitutional laws while passing these judgements? It is for the President to see that he defends the law and the Constitution. He has to see whether the judge defended the law, whether he defended the Constitution.

So, apart from these two judgements, in 1975, in the St. Xavier College's case, minorities' rights were protected. A nine-Member Bench had passed a judgment promising guarantee for minorities. Are these judgements being followed by the courts, by different High Courts? No, each High Court is passing orders in a different way. The nine-Member Bench judgement needs review. Once it was sought to be reviewed. It was posted before one Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He retired. Then it came to Justice Anand. For some reason or the other, it is being delayed. The judgement of the nine-Member Bench needs review. You have a law officer, Attorney-General, Solicitor-General and an Additional Solicitor-General. In addition to that, you have an Additional Solicitor-General as a Minister. So, at least now, you take up these issues before the Supreme Court to protect the interests of the common man. Otherwise, the common man will lose faith in Parliament. This Parliament is a mirror reflecting the aspirations of the people. It is supreme.

The Supreme Court had once held that Constitution is supreme. Parliament is supreme. With folded hands, you were elected; with folded hands, you got votes; and you are in this Parliament now. I would like to stress the theory of sovereignty. (Interruptions) In five minutes' time, I will conclude. There is nothing personal. It is only on theory.

MR. SPEAKER: You have already taken 12 minutes. The time allowed to your party is eight minutes.

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : We are 10 Members. It includes 69 lakh votes from Tamil Nadu. No other Member is speaking.

MR. SPEAKER: There are other Parties also which have more Members than your Party.

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : We have got 69 lakh votes.

MR. SPEAKER: Please conclude.

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : I would like to stress Austin's theory of sovereignty. "If a determinate human superior" -- that is the Government -"not in the habit of obedience to a like superior" -- you are not obeying anybody -- "receive habitual obedience from the bulk of the society" -- the entire people of India -- "is sovereign of that society." So, this sovereignty should not on any account be compromised. The people's sovereignty resides with Parliament. People's sovereignty does not reside with the Executive. You may be a parliamentary executive but under the parliamentary control. So, I would like to stress that the Home Minister will take up all these issues before the Supreme Court to settle all the problems of common man. I have cited these judgments. I think you are also aware.

Let me come to the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner. The President has made a reference in paragraph 41 itself. The Bill is to be introduced. It has already been introduced. It should have been introduced last year itself. For the last one year, how did the CBI function? The CBI is a powerful weapon in the hands of the ruling party.

I would once again state that at one instance the Prime Minister said: `I will ask all the Ministers to declare their assets before the House.' Was it done on the last occasion? It was not done by all the Ministers. It was not published. It is not for your consumption. I have a right to know about my Ministers; you have a right to know about your Ministers; and the people of India should have a right to know about the assets of every Minister. So, at this juncture, I would stress that the Government should direct their Ministers to do so in accordance with the law.

Lastly, to enforce the fundamental right, one has to come to Delhi. That is why, I asked for a Bench of the Supreme Court in the southern part of India either in Bangalore or in Chennai. In the meantime, Parliament has another power. Article 32(1) provides for it. Article 32 clause (iii) provides that Parliament may, by law, empower any other court. Parliament can empower even a munsif's court or a district court to exercise within the local limits of jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court. But for the last 50 years it was not done. At least for a habeas corpus case why should a man come from Kanyakumari to Delhi? Article 32 clause (iii) provides for that. This is an important Bill. So, the Government can bring a Constitution Amendment Bill immediately to amend article 32 clause (iii) to empower the local courts to exercise the jurisdiction.

Again, if the power of the Opposition parties is taken away by removing the No-Confidence clause in the rules, then there cannot be any democracy. Now, you have come to the House with so many parties. You have not obtained any Confidence Vote and you are sitting here. You are not able to move confidence vote immediately because the procedure does not provide for it. The No-Confidence Motion is the privilege of the Opposition parties to exercise their rights to bring to the House the lapses of the Government at least in every six months. So, in that way, it will amount to silence the Opposition parties. If the Confidence Motion is there, then the Government can be there. The Opposition parties have to be at the mercy of the Government or somebody else.

Then, I come to a fixed term of five years. The Constitution provides `Parliament until or sooner dissolved shall continue for five years'. So, there is a clause `until or sooner dissolved'. If there is a provision for right to recall and if it is introduced, then you can have a definite term of five years. Otherwise, the Government cannot be questioned, M.Ps cannot be questioned and people will be in peril. So, in that way, Parliament need not amend the fixed term of five years.

Then, I charge the Government for having brought the Insurance Bill on a priority basis. They have not done anything for the people. Today morning, we consumed more time. Yesterday, we consumed more time for multinational companies. Are they our voters? Are they our electorate? We are fighting here. The Government is also fighting with the Opposition parties to support the multinational companies.

This Bill could have been brought in the next Session. They have not brought any other Bill. The electoral mandate for the Lok Sabha in 1999 is for fulfilling the immediate concerns of the people, not for multinationals. The IRDA Bill is a blatant and sincere attempt to allow the entry of multinationals in our country. It will spoil our country's economy.

MR. SPEAKER: Please wind up now.

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : I shall finish in one minute, Sir. I do not want to put you in an embarrassing position.

Then, Sir, I charge the Government for the lapses when they were in power during the Twelfth Lok Sabha. The UTI prices were raised, steel prices were hiked over and above the international prices. The Finance Minister should know. All these things I learnt from the newspapers.

THE MINISTER OF FINANCE (SHRI YASHWANT SINHA): Your party also was in the Government.

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : I was not a Member at that time, otherwise I would have had the first-hand knowledge here. What did they do with this hike? Was there any kickback? Why should the UTI prices be raised? What about Maruti, taken over by Suzuki? Who is behind this? Who is cementing the whole country? The Southern States are being cemented. Who is cementing them? There cannot be any cementing in politics. There is a cementing in Andhra, there is a cementing in Tamil Nadu, there is a cementing in Kerala. This sort of cementing cannot be done in the Parliament.

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Pandian, please try to understand. There are other Member also to speak.

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN :I am concluding, Sir.

As far as the Kargil war is concerned, I salute the martyrs on behalf of our party.

SHRI K. YERRANNAIDU : Not the Government!

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : I shall come to that. If the Prime Minister or the Home Minister or the External Affairs Minister or the Defence Minister are Generals, I will salute them. But they are M.Ps. Because of them the Kargil war was declared unofficially. You must know that. Did they conquer any territory? They were trying to regain the territory. They allowed the Pakistanis to infiltrate. They slept for ten months. They did not bother about the military intelligence. They did not work for the people. They did not work for the country. They worked for the party. After having entered this House, they must work for the country. In the Lobby they may work for the Party, but in the House they must work for the country. Had they worked for the country, had they been vigilant, the Kargil war would not have been declared unofficially.

MR. SPEAKER: Nothing will go on record now.

SHRI P.H. PANDIYAN : Thank you, Sir.

SHRI TRILOCHAN KANUNGO (JAGATSINGHPUR): Mr. Speaker, Sir, at the time I am standing to support the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address, the coastal Orissa has been completely devastated by the worst cyclone of this millennium and my constituency is perhaps the worst affected. The plane could not land in Bhubaneswar today. At this time I feel quite disturbed. But when I am going to speak on this Motion of Thanks, I shall not take much time of the House. I shall confine myself to one area. I have been inspired and influenced by paras 48 and 4 of the President's Address.

In para 48 of his Address, the President says :

"The people who have elected you have high expectations from all of you".

I am sure both the bureaucratic and political Governments would be quite responsive to the responsibilities of the Members in discharging their duties towards the people of their constituencies, of the State which they represent in this House.

Secondly, in para 4 of his Address the President has quoted Gandhiji:

"I shall work for an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country in whose making they have an effective voice."

Sir, even after 52 years of our Independence and 50 years of our Republic and after Nine Five-Year Plans, poverty has not yet been eradicated. When Shri Joshi was speaking, Shri Shukla has said that poverty has been reduced and he was asking about the question of the percentage. Yes, the percentage has been reduced. But what about the absolute numbers? The absolute numbers have increased. Poverty has not only increased but the very concept of poverty and the methodology to measure poverty is defective. The methodology by which we decide people below the poverty line is defective. I request the Government to re-define poverty and also see that the methodology by which the measurement of poverty is being done is changed. These two things are defective. We always quote that so many people are below the poverty line or so much percentage of people are below the poverty line in so and so State etc. My request is that these two things should be studied and re-defined and the methodology should be corrected.

My point is that the eradication of poverty will only be possible when regional disparities are removed. There is no reference of removal of regional disparities in the President's Address. I harp on that point only. In the past 50 or 52 years of governance, for 45 years, the country was under the rule of the Congress Party and the regional disparities have not been lessened but they are growing. There is only one thing I want to say. There are States which are becoming poorer and poorer year after year. Orissa represents one such backward State.

The paradox is that the State of Orissa languishes in the whirlpool of abject poverty in the midst of abundant natural resources with 98 per cent of country's chromite, 88 per cent of nickel ore, 70 per cent of bauxite, 33 per cent of graphite, 31 per cent of rare-earth, 28 per cent of manganese, 25 per cent of iron ore and 24 per cent of coal with 56,000 square kilometres of forests, 450 kilometres of coastline and 10 per cent of the water resources of the country for five per cent of land area and four per cent of the human resources of the nation. These puzzle many. With such abundant natural resources the State of Orissa is languishing in abject poverty. Sir, the President has quoted Gandhiji's dream of future of India.

Gandhiji had visited Orissa in 1921 and after visiting Orissa, he had written :

"The picture of the crowd of the men, women and children in their fleshless bones under the very shadow of Jagannath haunts me. I invite the sceptics to visit Orissa, penetrate its villages and find out for themselves where India stands. Orissa is the epitome of India's poverty."

Nearly 80 years after Gandhiji visited and wrote, things have not changed. People are dying of starvation, parents are selling their children to save themselves from hunger.

As far back as in 1912, Lord Curzon had rightly said - I would request the hon. Home Minister to pay attention - in the House of Lords :

"Had people of Orissa been an agitating class which they are not, the demands would be long heard."

Till date, the people of Orissa are really not an agitating class and their demands have not been heard.

Sir, I feel that in independent India, principles so devised, plans so designed, finances so devolved, resources so transferred, Constitution so framed, laws thereunder so enacted and administration so-behaved, have helped the rich regions grow richer and the poor region, poor States poorer. After 52 years of Independence, Orissa's relative position among the body polity of nation is alarming and disastrous. More than 50 per cent of its population is illiterate. The infant death per 1,000 births is more than 100, being the highest in the country. In Orissa, only 30 per cent of the net sown area is irrigated and 22 kilograms of fertilizer is being used per hectare of cultivated land, being the lowest among the States. The foodgrains production per hectare is only 10.42 quintals which is one of the lowest among the States. The per capita consumption of electricity per annum is only 226 Kilo Watt Hour, thus revealing a very low quality of life. Seventy per cent of the villages of the State are yet to be electrified whereas many States have achieved one hundred per cent electrification of their villages since long. Railway route length is only 13 kilometres per 1,000 square kilometres of area, being the lowest among the non-special category States. Only 10 per cent of the roads are surfaced and among eight major ports, Paradeep port's shipping cargo handling is the lowest.