The limits of power

The fiscal initiatives 2017 has reached a deadlock.

The government remains firm that it has the prerogative to grant fiscal incentives. But the Opposition, the Council, and Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) are just as insistent that the fiscal incentives given between January 2016 and May 8, 2017 are unconstitutional because they were given without the Parliament’s approval.

In defence of the Constitution as they say, all institutions are citing the Supreme Court’s judgement of the first constitutional case to legitimise their stand. Even as the debate is getting intense, such discourses are important and good in a democracy.

We see perspectives converging and differences magnify. Questions are asked on the power of the executive and answers sought on the limits of that power. Law provisions and accusations are flung to assert their stand and past practices citied to justify the present exercise. How long this could go depends on how far the institutions are willing to go with their claim of protecting the Constitution.

In an attempt to clarify and interpret the Supreme Court’s judgement, the institutions involved must not muddle the issue by breeding contempt nor assume that the people are dumb. The electoral advantage of such debates is not lost on the people or the politics and the theatrics that come with it. In the end, it must enhance the democratic process.

The Supreme Court’s judgement of the first constitutional case has established the powers of the executive.  It has also established a precedent for judicial review of executive decisions.  Then, it was the Opposition that filed the case. Today, it is a third party – DNT – that is threatening to sue the government.

A legal recourse may be helpful to clarify the issue. But the judiciary has to have a case for it to provide its opinion. Even if a case gets filed, it will again depend on whether the court would accept the case. If it does, the public confidence in the decision of the judiciary must not falter because even in this case we do have a precedent.

These procedures beside, there is however a need for clarity.  The issue is about reviewing executive decisions and ascertaining the legitimacy if not the righteousness of these actions. It is about holding institutions accountable to the Constitution, the law that protects the national interest.

It is in national interest that we cannot allow it to remain in a deadlock.

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