9 ordinances, 4 for Rahul: UPA planning emergency laws days before polls are announced

As UPA plans to promulgate nine ordinances, some sections in the bureaucracy have raised questions of constitutionality behind the move.

Written by Maneesh Chhibber | New Delhi | Updated: February 26, 2014 9:10 am
The ordinances being planned include those that will replace Bills pending in Parliament and which Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has been talking about as being necessary to fight corruption. (PTI) The ordinances being planned include those bills which Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has been talking about as being necessary to fight corruption. (PTI)

In a move that has triggered some disquiet in sections of the bureaucracy and raised questions of propriety and constitutionality, the UPA government is planning to promulgate at least nine ordinances next week, days before Lok Sabha elections are announced.

Showing unusual urgency and hoping to beat the imposition of the model code of conduct, four ministries, it is learnt, have sent requests to the legislative department of the Ministry of Law and Justice to draft the ordinances “by tomorrow” (Wednesday) so that they can be cleared by the cabinet when it meets Friday.

Government sources told The Indian Express that questions have been raised by senior government functionaries about the timing of the ordinances and the need for the urgency. The functionaries have also warned that the move could end up becoming controversial and land in court.

“Yes, we have been asked why this sudden rush? But there is nothing wrong in what we are planning to do because issuing ordinances is the right of the government in office,” a senior Ministry of Personnel official said, justifying the government’s move.

Constitutional experts said the ordinances will be the first big test for President Pranab Mukherjee as he will have to, before giving his assent, take into consideration the question of propriety and whether an outgoing government should issue such a large number of ordinances just before general elections.

The President is yet to receive the government’s request to prorogue Parliament and unless the Presidential notification about Parliament being prorogued is issued, no ordinance can be issued.

The ordinances being planned include those that will replace Bills pending in Parliament and which Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has been talking about as being necessary to fight corruption.

These include the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill, the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill and the Public Procurement Bill, 2012.

The law ministry has also been asked to re-draft three ordinances that were promulgated earlier but had lapsed.

These include the SEBI (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013, which provides for greater power to the stock market regulator, the Indian Medical Council (Ordinance), 2013 and the Readjustment of Representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Ordinance, 2013.

A surprise inclusion to the list is one that could increase reservation for disabled persons in government jobs. Last week, rights activists had met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to seek support for this law.

Another ordinance that the law ministry has been asked to draft relates to the proposal to increase the financial jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 2 crore by amending the Delhi High Court Act, 1966 and the Punjab Courts Act, 1918.

The government also wants to amend the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

“This is unconstitutional,” said constitutional expert and senior lawyer Rajiv Dhawan.

“The term of the 15th Lok Sabha is ending and there is not going to be another session of this Lok Sabha. This government is committing a major hoax in the name of issuing ordinances but whose main purpose is purely political. Ordinances are brought when Parliament is not in session. How can the government, which is in office only till the 15th Lok Sabha is in place, issue any ordinance and set the legislative agenda of the next Parliament? This is absurd,” he said.

Former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash C Kashyap too said the proposed ordinances would be against “constitutional propriety” and that he disagreed with the rationale behind the ordinances.

“Under Article 123, the constitution provides that when both houses are not in session and a situation arises which calls for urgent legislative action then the President may issue an ordinance. What is the urgency now?” he asked.

“Technically, Parliament is still in session as it has not been prorogued. Has the situation changed so much in the last one week or so to merit ordinances? It will be highly unethical and against constitutional propriety for this government to issue any ordinance now,” Kashyap said.

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  1. J
    Jishna Chauhan
    Feb 26, 2014 at 7:01 am
    Congress has some good laws and ordinances lining up. The increase reservation for disabled persons in government jobs is much needed and will surely benefit lot of people
    Reply
  2. J
    Jishna Chauhan
    Feb 26, 2014 at 7:00 am
    Good work. Glad that Congress knows the urgency of these ordinances, they are putting their best efforts on this. People were waiting for many of these laws from quite a long time
    Reply
  3. K
    Kairav Singh
    Feb 26, 2014 at 7:04 am
    Congress knows the pulse of the mes. They are doing the right thing. Congress is the most trustworthy political party in India
    Reply
  4. K
    kumar
    Feb 26, 2014 at 1:16 am
    oridances are not the solution.. healthy debate in parliament is the way to go forward
    Reply
  5. R
    Raghu Rai
    Feb 26, 2014 at 1:57 am
    Ordinances are brought when Parliament is not in session. How can the government, which is in office only till the 15th Lok Sabha is in place, issue any ordinance and set the legislative agenda of the next Parliament? This is absurd.Technically, Parliament is still in session as it has not been prorogued. Has the situation changed so much in the last one week or so to merit ordinances? It will be highly unethical and against consutional propriety for this government to issue any ordinance now.
    Reply
  6. H
    Hena Handa
    Feb 26, 2014 at 11:38 am
    Everybody in India is somehow affected from corruption..everyone is fed-up of it.. its a great move from RaGa which will surely get rid people from corruption..
    Reply
  7. K
    Kaira Taneja
    Feb 26, 2014 at 11:36 am
    Brilliant move. I think these Bills are needed and it is a good thing to have them. So this is a well done for Congress....
    Reply
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