The last three years have been tumultuous for India’s democracy and its citizens, who helplessly witnessed a continuing spectacle of sorts as the coalition government lurched from one scam to another while getting weakened by desertion of allies.

Although it did not face any real threat of being defeated on the floor of Parliament, thanks largely to lack of trust smaller parties had in the main opposition BJP, there was perceptible gloom among citizens about governance.

It all began with irregular allocation of 2G spectrum by the UPA-1 regime in 2008. It was unearthed and left smouldering by theComptroller and Auditor General (CAG), which estimated the loss to a figure much beyond the public’s capability to fathom.

Since then, then UPA’s scam-ridden governance has sped from one controversy to another, the latest being the coal scam, again estimated by the CAG to an unfathomable figure.

If corruption in governance was not cause for enough worry for the people, the game of cricket, often described as a passion akin to religion in India, got tainted by the greed of certain players who in league with bookies and punters took the public for a ride.

Amid this gloom, one of the key ministers in the Manmohan Singh government, Kapil Sibal, said there was in fact nothing wrong with the government and that everything else was to be blamed for the present state of governance.

Sibal was anguished, disappointed and desperate when he articulated the cause behind the problem. He said, “The executive is not responding in appropriate manner, the legislature is not functioning and the courts are going beyond their jurisdiction. In this situation, how does the country move forward? This is the real problem.”

He blamed the opposition for not allowing Parliament to pass important legislations. And democratic institutions of not sticking to the constitutional tracks, thus, denting polity and hindering its effectiveness. “It is the nature of our polity, the way in which we run our institutions and the lack of principles on the basis of which the nation has to move forward,” he added.

All these are profound statements. If the executive is not responding in appropriate manner, legislature is not functioning and courts are acting beyond their power, then it must be said that the entire software of constitutional machinery has caught a destructive virus.

If the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, the three main pillars on whose support rests good governance, are not functioning as per the constitutional mandate, then it must be admitted that India is in for a very serious problem.

Scams can be investigated and the corrupt nailed; policy aberrations can be corrected and incompetent replaced; but once the sinews of democracy get infected with a deadly virus, it would take the country decades to get the democratic engine back on track.

But there could be a flip side to this. When one gets bogged down by accusations from all quarters, he starts blaming everyone else. Is the UPA government, facing a volley of charges on governance count, finding fault with everything else other than its own follies?

We the people of India are essentially optimists. We emerged stronger from the dark days of Emergency, which severely tested the mettle of constitutional institutions – Parliament, Executive and Judiciary. Collectively they failed, notwithstanding life giving sparks from individuals occupying high constitutional posts.

As citizens, our only expectation is good governance. We are not bothered who the ministers are when we scrutinize policy decisions and its impact. We are not awed by high ranking bureaucrats, but evaluate their efficiency in implementing welfare policies. We are least concerned about the judges as long as they dispense justice expeditiously and maintain the majesty of rule of law.

Are we asking for too much when we seek these from Parliament, Executive and Judiciary? The Supreme Court in Rajasthan vs Union of India [(1977) 3 SCC 592] had said, “The scrupulously discharged duties of all guardians of the Constitution include the duty not to transgress the limitations of their own constitutionally circumscribed powers by trespassing into what is properly the domain of other constitutional organs.

“Questions of political wisdom or executive policy only could not be subjected to judicial control. No doubt executive policy must also be subordinated to constitutionally sanctioned purposes. It has its sphere and limitations. But so long as it operates within that sphere, its operations are immune from judicial interference. This is also a part of the doctrine of a rough separation of powers under the supremacy of the Constitution repeatedly propounded by this court and to which the court unswervingly adheres even when its views differ or change on the correct interpretation of a particular constitutional provision.”

Sibal’s worries have no remedy in the Constitution as it has no answer to the “who will police the police” question. We, as citizens, expect every organ of democracy to live up to its responsibility and those at the helm of affairs do their best to provide good governance, not excuses.