Herald: Don’t trouble an ill CM, replace him!
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Don’t trouble an ill CM, replace him!

29 Oct 2018 06:00am IST
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29 Oct 2018 06:00am IST

Chief Minister’s cancer condition known to everyone unofficially is now out. He definitely cut a sorry figure who with BJP and coalition partners tried desperately to hide his ailment in a desperate bid to hold on to a wrongfully wrested chair. However, what Goa’s Health Minister did was bizarre. The State’s topmost health policymaker said "I cannot give his (Parrikar's) update. The Chief Minister is unwell and it is the prerogative of the family to give information. It is not for the Minister for Health" and 48 hours later revealed, “He is Chief Minister of Goa, and the fact is he is not well — he has got pancreatic cancer. There is no hiding this fact”. The Man who aspires to and is being touted to lead Goa himself spilt the beans on his own Chief Minister.

This isn’t just about why Goa was misled about its own CM’s health. Rather, it is whether unhealthy Ministers should be allowed to continue in a position of decision making and power even if they are incapacitated. Health Minister’s defence, “Let him be peaceful with his family. He has that much right after serving the people of Goa – if he wants to spend some quality time with his family, nobody has the business to ask” is well off the mark as the State is not a toy that an ailing Chief Minister should hold on to. The people of Goa respect his health condition and are not demanding that he attend office. In fact, the people of Goa didn’t even want the ailing CM to hold a Cabinet meeting at AIIMS or demanded that he repeat the meeting at his residence 48 hours from today. All that Goa wants is that running the State is not the same as running a pawn shop where you can saunter in and stroll out. This is serious business and let physically healthy people able to not only attend secret Cabinet meetings but also meet the people who elected them should be running the Government.

The politicking in acknowledgement of the health of Goa’s CM and well as his ex-Cabinet colleagues have left a piquant situation that has seems to have no recourse in Law. As per the Constitution of India’s proceedings under Article 124 (for the removal of a Supreme Court judge) and Article 218 (for the removal of a High Court judge), a judge may be removed from office through a motion adopted by Parliament on grounds of ‘proven misbehaviour or incapacity’. While our Constitution left no stones unturned to ensure that even those custodians of law and upholders of law - our judges that were incapacitated (including those suffering from ill-health) could be removed if they willingly and voluntarily did not vacate their chairs, there is no way in which you can remove an unwilling Chief Minister or even a Prime Minister as the head of the Cabinet. Something that Goa and even the CM’s own Cabinet colleagues grudgingly suffered.

It is time to amend the Representation of People’s Act 1951 and introduce right to recall. The absence of a quarter of the ruling coalition from work on account of serious health condition and their reluctance to let the state run in their power greed has to be addressed head-on. Probably we should learn from the USA whose federal structure was borrowed by the Fathers of our Constitution. As per the 25th Amendment to the Constitution of USA, if a president’s illness makes him unable to discharge his duties, the vice president takes over the duties of the President. If the President doesn’t declare his inability to discharge his duties and doesn’t voluntarily transfer powers before his incapacitation, the vice president can, with a majority of the cabinet (or some other such “body as Congress may by law provide”) assume power. 
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