Tired of under-performing politicians? BJP MP Varun Gandhi might have a solution that voters might like, but not too many politicians might appreciate.  

Gandhi on Tuesday moved a Private Members Bill in Lok Sabha, which if passed, will allow voters to recall MPs and MLAs within two years of being elected if 75 percent of those who voted for them are not satisfied with their performance. 

Gandhi has proposed an amendment to the Representation of the People Act 1951 through his Private Member bill. The 1951 Act lays down guidelines lawmakers and legislators, both national and state-level, need to follow in order to get elected and hold office.  

According to Gandhi, voters should be able to control the political narrative of the country rather than just engage in it once every five years. 

Source: b'Varun Gandhi | Source: PTI (File Photo)\xc2\xa0'

How will the recall process work? 

As per the legislation, the recalling process can be initiated by any voter of the constituency by filing a petition before the Speaker, signed by at least one-fourth of the total number of electors in that constituency.

After confirming its authenticity, the Speaker will move the application to the Election Commission to verify and authenticate the voters’ signatures on it.

The Commission will verify the signatures on it and will organise the voting in the respective constituency of MP or MLA, it says.

'Right to Recall' - Why is it important?

In India, the Representation of the People Act 1951, which has undergone several notable amendments, lays down rules of disqualification for MPs and MLAs. But the question of disqualifying office holders can only be decided by the President. 

Lawmakers in India generally face disqualification only over criminal convictions or defection charges. 

The motion to disqualify legislators may be raised by the central government, or by the Election Commission. However, there are ambiguities as to the exact process followed to disqualify public servants in case of conviction. 

If passed, the bill will give people the power to directly remove under-performing ministers and politicians instead of waiting for the next election. 

“Logic and justice necessitate that if the people have the power to elect their representatives, they should also have the power to remove these representatives when they engage in misdeeds or fail to fulfill the duties,”  Gandhi said

Does this exist anywhere else? 

The 'Right to Recall' has always been a debated topic. According to Varun Gandhi, countries all over the world have 'experimented' with the concept. 

While there aren't many examples of successful recall laws, Gandhi is right about the experimenting. 

Here are some of the other democracies in the world that have dabbled with recall. 

USA

In the US, recall laws appeared as early as the mid-1600s. California was one of the first states to have the power to recall their Governor. 

Different states in US have different guidelines or criteria for the recall process to be initiated. Recall Elections are held for the removal of an office holder though the number of signatures required on the recall referendum vary from state to state. 

Source: b'A woman holds up a poster during a Recall protest | Source: Reuters (File)'

The US Constitution, however, does not allow the recall of state Senators, Representatives, or the President or Vice President, which makes critics argue that the bill is actually ineffectual. 

UK  

United Kingdom passed the Recall of MPs Act 2015, after popular support from student organisations and social pressure groups. The Act allows for an MP's disqualification if 10% of their eligible constituents (voters) sign a petition asking for a by-election. 

However, critics claim the bill gives power to politicians and not so much to the public.

Canada 

The Recall Act in Canada allows for the recall of office holders if a certain percentage of electors vote against them. 

In 1991, 81 per cent of people in the Canadian province of British Columbia voted for the implementation of Recall legislation to bring underperforming public servants to book. Provincial Alberta also dabbled with recall laws early on. 

Venezuela 

Source: b'A biker goes past a wall mural of former President Hugo Chavez in Venezeula | Source: Reuters (File Photo)'

Article 72 of the Constitution of Venezuela allows for the recall of any elected official or representative, including the President. The recall petitions need signatures from 25 per cent of the electors. 

In 2004, this provision was used in the Venezuelan recall referendum, which attempted to remove President Hugo Chavez, and then again in 2016 agaisnt President Nicolas Maduro. 

Merits and Demerits 

Do you think recall laws will work in India? Tell us in the comments. 

Feature Image Source: Reuters/PTI