For Modi govt, Lokpal is not priority, enemy property is

There have been close to two dozen ordinances, but not one for the ombudsman

GN Bureau | March 29, 2017


#demonetisation   #Arvind Kejriwal   #Anna Hazare   #supreme court   #parliament   #Narendra Modi   #corruption   #Lokpal   #ordinance   #president  


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
 

Comments

 

Other News

How foreign policy has been Modi’s focus right from the start

The Midway Battle: Modi’s Roller-coaster Second Term By Gautam Chintamani Bloomsbury / 400 pages / Rs 699 Gautam Chintamani, a film historian and author, has penned an in-depth chronicle of prime minister Narendra Modi’s second

Remove unauthorized constructions without pressure: Thackeray to BMC

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has instructed the Mumbai civic authorities to take immediate action on unauthorized constructions on war footing. In a virtual meeting held on Wednesday, Thackeray said no illegal construction will be tolerated in Mumbai and called upon the BMC to

Covid norms relaxed; Mumbai restaurants, shops to remain open longer

After extending timings of shops and restaurants as well as the reopening of cinema halls and theatres under specified SOPs from October 22, in view of the festive cheer, the Maharashtra government has allowed restaurants and eateries to remain open till 12AM and shops and establishments to function till 1

Global Hunger Index data collection flawed: Arvind Panagariya

Rubbishing the recently released Global Hunger Index 2021, wherein India has slipped to 101 position to be placed below Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, Arvind Panagariya, professor of economics at Columbia University and former vice chairman, NITI Aayog, has said that data collection and methodologies used

‘Blue Zones’ concept of healthy living and its relevance in India

A long life span free from diseases and disability, the so-called healthy aging, has been a matter of prime interest to humanity. It is widely held that the life expectancy is a function of interplay between various genetic and environmental factors. There is scientific evidence to support the fact that on

Motilal Nehru too had petitioned for release of his son: Vikram Sampath

Defence minister Rajnath Singh’s statement, that Mahatma Gandhi had asked V.D. Savarkar to file a mercy petition before the British, has ignited a debate. Vikram Sampath, a historian and author of a recent biography of Savarkar, says two weeks after Jawaharlal Nehru was lodged in Nabha jail, his

Visionary Talk with Dr Arvind Panagariya, Professor, Columbia University & Former VC, NITI Aayog



Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter