There have been close to two dozen ordinances, but not one for the ombudsman
GN Bureau | March 29, 2017
The government has told the supreme court that the Lokpal cannot be appointed because the 2013 law needs several amendments, which will be taken up only in the monsoon session.
The Narendra Modi government began its innings by issuing two ordinances in the first cabinet meet – an emergency provision for lawmaking, and has issued at least 22 so far. If it has slightest urgency to fulfill the anti-corruption mandate, it would have resorted to this channel and appointed a Lokpal by now.
Ironically, this is one law for which it would not even need the ordinance route, as the opposition would have whole-heartedly supported it.
Also read: If you (really) want to fight black money, won’t Lokpal make more sense?
Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi told the apex court on Tuesday that a parliamentary standing committee report had proposed 20 amendments, and parliament “may” consider them in the monsoon session. The supreme court is hearing a bunch of petitions seeking early appointment of the overarching anti-corruption mechanism.
A key amendment is that the original law provides for the leader of opposition (LoP) of the Lok Sabha in the Lokpal selection panel, but since there is no LoP in the lower house after the Congress debacle in the 2014 elections, the expression “LoP” needs to be replaced by “the leader of the largest party”. It’s difficult to imagine the Congress – which brought the 2013 law – creating any hurdles for this amendment.
Not that the government has not resorted to the ordinance route on Lokpal – it did, in 2016 – but only to amend the provision about declaration of assets and liabilities by public servants. Providing relief to bureaucrats against a pressing deadline was a matter of urgency. Providing citizens a Lokpal was not.
Urgency is the key word here, because in 2011, when Anna Hazare, supported by Arvind Kejriwal and others, were demanding the Jan Lok Pal law, there were moments when the agitators and their supporters were not ready to wait even a day and wanted parliament to continue till late in the evening to pass this law.
A glance at the selective list of ordinances – some of them reissued several times – provides the best indicator of the government’s priorities. For these matters, the government scrambled, rushed, and resorted to the exceptional routes (inviting criticism from the president too), but the Lokpal is not one of them.
* The very first one in May 2014: The ordinance to amend the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act [so that an exception can be made for a former TRAI chief, Nripendra Mishra, to be appointed principal secretary to the prime minister]
* The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, [issued several times, to dilute the UPA-time stringent law on land acquisition, and making it easier for companies to acquire land for commercial projects]
* An ordinance to amend the Enemy Property Act (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants Act) of 1971 [for the state take over the properties of those who fled to Pakistan]
* The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 [for better registration facilities to reduce accidents]
* The Citizenship (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 [to introduce reforms for NRIs and PIOs]
* The Insurance Laws (Amendment) Ordinance [to raise the FDI limit in insurance to 49 percent]
* The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance [to reform coal mining licence process]
* The ordinance to amend the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act [to transfer of some villages for a project]
* The latest, in December: the ordinance to make it illegal to hold demonetized currency notes
As India gears up to celebrate its 71st Republic Day on January 26, it will host Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro as the chief guest of the event that marks the day when the country formally adopted the Constitution as the guiding document. This will be Bolsonaro’s maiden visit, which he would like
With the outbreak of Coronavirus reported from China, India has started taking precautionary measures, and begun screening passengers of selected flights. “As of 21st January, a total of 43 flights and 9156 passengers have been screened for novel Coronavirus illness. Till now, no case
Every middle-class Indian dreams of a home coupled withlanded property to live off the rent. However, large initial investment, particularly inmetros, and low yields ensure that real estate is out of the reach of the common man. A return of 7-8 percent from commercial properties is considered highly commen
The Maharashtra State Election Commission has urged the residents to take advantage of the ongoing Electors Verification Programme (EVP) and register their names along with those of the members of their families in the electoral rolls. The drive, which started on November 11, 2019, will continue till Febru
The budget season is here, and the annual document has gone to print, beginning the lock-in period till its presentation in parliament on February 1. The Halwa ceremony, marking the commencement of the budget printing process, was held in North Block Monday morning in the presence of finance
Investment banker, venture capitalist and stock-market expert Vallabh Bhansali is the co-founder and chairman of Enam Group, a pioneering equity research company in the country. He is a promoter of spiritual and cultural traditions and also an expert on development economics, behavioural science and co