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HomeIndiaConstitution needs a re-look, says PM's Economic Advisory Council chief Bibek Debroy

Constitution needs a re-look, says PM’s Economic Advisory Council chief Bibek Debroy

Speaking at the Palkhivala Memorial Lecture, economist Debroy also asked the judiciary to set performance and accountability indicators for itself.

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New Delhi: It’s time to take a re-look at the entire Constitution, according to Dr Bibek Debroy, Chairman of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister.

“I know it sounds like sacrilege, with the basic structure doctrine etc., though I have questions about the basic structure judgment as well, but the point is about citizens and them exercising the countervailing pressure,” Debroy said Friday at the Palkhivala Memorial Lecture, organised as part of jurist and economist Nani Palkhivala’s birth centenary celebrations at Delhi’s India International Centre (IIC).

Also present at the event were Dr Mohan Kumar, professor and Vice-Dean at the Jindal School of International Affairs, N.N. Vohra, president of the IIC, and Major General Nilendra Kumar (retired), secretary of the steering committee of the centenary celebrations. 

Also read: Bibek Debroy on GDP estimation and Devi Shetty on improving medical education

‘There should be performance indicators in judiciary’

Addressing various concerns regarding the judiciary, Debroy said there was a need for “an impact assessment of every judgment passed”.

“…It is not just the statute that has a cost, it is a succession of judgments that have also had significant costs,” the senior economist said. 

He also highlighted the need for performance indicators for the judiciary, saying: “In every place that I know of, in every organisation that any individual works in, there are performance indicators, but you mention performance indicators in the judiciary, and you get abused.

“I am not suggesting that someone from outside should come along and frame those performance indicators. All I’m asking is, why can’t the judiciary itself evolve its own performance indicators and accountability indicators?”

Additionally, Debroy also advocated for the management of courts, including listing of cases by professionals. He also spoke against the availability of “two appeals” to litigants.

He further said he wondered whether it was better when the country had a jury system, as he believed it would have ensured that cases were not dragged on unnecessarily and would have enabled day-to-day hearings. 

Legislators with ‘planning commission mindset’

Debroy took objection to the “planning commission mindset” of Indian legislators, who he said have a tendency to pass laws for every problem.

“If the legislation is unwarranted, it unnecessarily causes problems… We need to now systematically curb this tendency to excessively legislate… When we pass a statute [we need to ask] what are the benefits, what are the costs, what if we don’t have that statute?” he said.

Ending his speech on a lighter note, Debroy said: “Whether it is judgments or statutes, can we have a little less of Latin and a little bit more of plain English?”

Referring to the Supreme Court’s rap for the Bombay High Court last week over an “unintelligible” order, Debroy said: “Can we have a situation where the Supreme Court does not have to send down a judgment to the high court saying that we are unable to understand what this judgment says?”

Also read: ‘Palestine in Kashmir’ writes Mani Aiyar, Bibek Debroy on 4 steps for economic revival


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  1. At the moment – which is also within the gentleman’s remit – the official statistics and data of the Indian economy need a retook. And then a powerful leg up, in the ball park of eight per cent plus.

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