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
A three-term Rajya Sabha member, Sanjay Raut is the Shiv Sena spokesperson and its voice in parliament. He is also the executive editor of Marathi newspaper Samana, started by Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray. Raut spoke with Geetanjali Minhas on his party’s seat-sharing agreement
Ashish Shelar, 47, was the president of the Mumbai city unit of the BJP, before he became the minister of school education, sports and youth welfare in the Maharashta government this year. He has represented the Vandre West constituency in the state assembly and seeking re-election. In a chat with
The Nobel Prize in economics for 2019 goes to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer "for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty." The prize, known as “The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel”, was announc
Prime minister Narendra Modi has accepted president Xi Jinping’s invitation to visit China in 2020 for their third informal summit after Wuhan and Mamallapuram, indicating both sides’ realization of the importance of the mechanism which gives the two leaders of the Asian giants an opportunity t
Dharma: Hinduism and Religions in India By Chaturvedi Badrinath Edited by Tulsi Badrinath Penguin, 194+ xiii pages, Rs 499 How to live: That is the most fundamental question of human existence.
Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Dr BR Ambedkar and popularly known as Balasaheb Ambedkar, heads the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA). The three-time MP founded this new political party last year with a vision of Ambedkarism, secularism, socialism and progressivism. The VBA, registered this year before the Lo