President readies to meet constitutional experts

May 16th, 2009 - 10:46 am ICT by IANS  

Pratibha Patil New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) With the 15th general elections widely expected to deliver a fractured mandate, the spotlight Saturday turned on President Pratibha Patil who will be meeting top constitutional expert Ashok Desai in the evening.
“The president will meet Ashok Desai (also a former attorney general of India) in the evening at 5.30 p.m.,” Archana Dutta, officer on special duty in the president’s office, told IANS here.

She will be meeting more constitutional experts over the next couple of days, Dutta added.

The president is expected to meet eminent constitutional experts Fali S. Nariman and Soli Sorabjee, former attorney journal of India.

It is up to the president to call the single largest party or the largest pre-poll alliance to form the government, senior advocate and constitutional expert Anil Dewan told IANS.

The constitution is silent on the options open before the president in case of a hung parliament. There are only precedents and conventions to go by.

The president’s choice will depend on which which party or alliance, in her view, can provide a stable government to the country, Dewan said.

“The pre-poll alliance with the largest number of MPs should be given the first chance, subject to an overwhelming majority by a single party.”

“The safest and most prudent rule for the president will be to first invite either the single largest party, though a minority, or a pre-poll alliance with the largest number of MPs to form the government,” said K.K. Venugopal, another leading constitutional expert and lawyer,

According to convention, the president will then set a time for the leader of the single largest party or pre-poll alliance to prove its majority on the floor of the house.

If this option does not work out, the leader of the second-largest party or alliance will be invited to form the government. If the second largest party or pre-poll alliance is not able to form a stable government, then the president will have no choice but to dissolve the house and ask for fresh elections.

“The president has to take care to act in such a manner that her subjective decisions will not be open to attack or criticism. Basically, she should act in an impartial manner and should be seen to be doing so,” said Venugopal.

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