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Friday, September 22, 2023

President Alvi Needs to Come Clean

President Alvi in his tweet did not say that he ever wrote a letter addressed to Parliament signed by him.

When the President returns a Bill to Parliament for reconsideration, he does not merely tell his staff orally to return it. He writes a letter to Parliament signed by him, expressing his disagreement, and tells his staff to send it to Parliament.

Where is that letter?

President Arif Alvi was deliberately evasive about this in his tweet. He obfuscated, dissembled, and made no mention of it. All he said in his tweet was that he asked his staff to return the Bill to Parliament, and his staff said they had done so. But surely this was not enough. He should have mentioned whether he wrote and signed a letter addressed to Parliament, and handed it to his staff for conveying it to Parliament.

Some people say that there is no legal requirement that when the President returns a Bill he must send a letter to Parliament/Government. But unless he writes such a letter how will Parliament/Government know what are the President’s objections to the Bill ? After all, he cannot just return a Bill without mentioning his reasons for objecting to it. Even assuming he wrote it, but his staff did not forward that letter to Parliament, President Alvi must be having a copy of that letter, if he ever wrote it. Let him produce it, instead of indulging in sophistry, equivocation and discombobulation.

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Strangely, neither do lawyers, nor the media, nor others commenting on this episode, delve into this issue. Should such people, particularly the media, not have asked this vital question instead of merely screaming and raising a hue and cry over it?

Since President Alvi has not produced this letter, nor clarified whether he wrote it, his veracity and credibility becomes questionable, as a cloak of mystery is cast over the entire statement in his tweet, notwithstanding his taking the name of Allah.

Markandey Katju is an Indian jurist and former Supreme Court judge of India who served as chairman for the Press Council of India. He has also worked as Standing Counsel for the Income Tax Department.