Forty Years Ago, August 23, 1979: Lok Sabha Dissolved
By a stroke of the pen, President Neelam Sanjiva Reddy dissolved the Lok Sabha and ordered fresh elections in November-December. The Charan Singh government will continue in a caretaker capacity till the elections are over. The President signed the order that cut short the life of the Lok Sabha by half a little before 1 pm. It was hailed as a just decision by Singh, but the Janata Party described the President’s action as a part of the conspiracy to stop Jagjivan Ram from becoming prime minister.
Janata Party members in the Rajya Sabha will give notice of a resolution for impeachment of the President for his decision to dissolve the Lok Sabha, allegedly in violation of the Constitution. Immediately after hearing about the sudden announcement of the dissolution of the Lok Sabha, the party president, Chandra Shekhar declared that his party members would give the impeachment notice. The Janata Party will need the support of at least 10 more members from other groups before it can refer the charge against the President. Under Article 61, the notice containing such a charge is required to be signed by not less than one-fourth of the total number of members of the House in which the move is initiated. The Janata has a strength of just 51 members in the 244-member Rajya Sabha.
Janata Party leaders, Jagjivan Ram and Chandra Shekhar, fear that the way has been opened for a “Presidential dictatorship” with the “arbitrary” dissolution of the Lok Sabha. In a strongly-worded joint statement, they feared the danger of a President taking arbitrary decisions by “blackmail or by other inducements”. In Sanjiva Reddy’s decision, the Janata leaders found a “deep conspiracy”. The aim, they felt, was to ensure that elections are held “with the state apparatus in the hands of a person chosen by the President himself”.