At least a dozen associations which were formed or represented by Members of Parliament (MPs) have received notices for using the word “parliamentary” in their names without permission, thus violating The Emblems And Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950. The MPs — from both Houses, across party lines — included at least two UPA-II ministers.
Following an RTI plea filed by The Indian Express on February 21 before the Department of Consumer Affairs, the nodal authority, seeking details of permission granted to these associations, the department, on March 18, wrote to the associations. “You are running an association/organisation using the word parliament/ legislative in the name of the association/ organisation/ forum without permission of the central government,” said the note, asking them to “inform whether permission has been obtained from this department’’. Sources said the associations are yet to respond.
Earlier, when an RTI plea was filed before the department on November 4 last year, providing a list of 12 associations using “parliament” in their names, the department had replied, “The registers have been checked and no applications in respect of the associations mentioned in your letter for grant of permission have been received as per the records of these registers.”
The Lok Sabha Secretariat has also recommended action against two such associations. On February 18 this year, it wrote to the Department of Consumer Affairs asking it to “take appropriate action for use of the word parliamentary by the two organisations — the India Nepal Parliamentary Dialogue and India-Sri Lanka Parliamentary Dialogue.”
Under the Act, no competent authority can register any company, firm or other body of persons which bears any name mentioned in the Act without approval of the Department of Consumer Affairs. These include the parliament, legislature of any state, Supreme Court, High Court of any state, Central Secretariat, secretariat of any state government, or even pictorial representation of any building occupied by any of these institutions.
When The Indian Express sent specific queries to then Consumer Affairs Minister K V Thomas, he did not respond.
Among the associations which have been listed are: the Forum of Parliamentarians on HIV and AIDS, established in 2000, headed by former Union Minister Oscar Fernandes with former Minister of State (Finance) J D Seelam as its Secretary General; Centre for Legislative Research and Advocacy established in 2004; the India-US Forum of Parliamentarians set up in March 2002; India-Pakistan Forum of Parliamentarians established in August 2005; India-Japan Forum of Parliamentarians founded in April 2005; Parliamentarians’ Forum on Economic Policy Issues (PARFORE) set up in in December 2005; India-European Union Forum of Parliamentarians established in April 2005 and the India-Germany Forum of Parliamentarians (INGEP) established in February 2003.
The list also includes the India-China Forum of Parliamentarians set up in January 2008; India-Nepal Parliamentary Dialogue established in March 2012; the India-Afghanistan Parliamentary Dialogue set up in May 2012 and the India-Bangladesh Parliamentary Dialogue founded in November 2012. Several MPs of many parties are associated with these organisations.
According to officials, those who violate the Act can be slapped with a fine (Rs 500) and prosecuted with the consent of the central government. “Nothing in this Act shall exempt any person from any suit or other proceeding which might, apart from this Act, be brought against him,” says the Act.