We have had a few elected members resigning before completing their tenure for reasons not so convincing enough. The recent being a gup who chose to go abroad barely two months after he was elected.
While it is clear that the resignations were sought taking advantage of loopholes in the law, this has raised a lot of questions. The National Assembly, National Council, Local Government or election Acts do not say that elected members cannot resign.
Taking the Assembly Act, for instance, it lays down just four reasons –resignation, death, disqualification or removal, or expiration of term of office – for an elected member’s seat to be considered vacant. Apart from that, a member’s seat would also be declared vacant if he or she remains absent for more than one-fourth of the number of days in the session without the assembly’s permission. The clauses are nothing different for other Acts either.
There is no question of amending the existing legislations with the agencies concerned and the government not finding it necessary to do so. However, procedures should be made clear to serve as a standard for similar cases in future as more resignations are likely to follow suit. Legislation alone cannot stop an elected member from resigning. It is not wise either to hold back someone who has decided to leave. But elected leaders, once elected as people’s representative, should not be let off easily unless in genuine cases. The larger interest of an elected leader is to serve the people. That they must remember.
Considering the amount of time and money voters waste during elections, it is imperative that elected leaders refund election expenses. Needless to state the cost it incurs on the government. It must also be made clear on whether members who had resigned before completing their term should be allowed to re-contest future elections.
Election is a costly affair. Therefore, when one decides to contest, they must do so to serve genuinely or else it’s like making a mockery of the institution of democracy.