If you thought legislation approved by Parliament has translated into rules for nationwide implementation, think again. As many as 43 Acts — passed before last July — are not being effectively enforced because the administrative department has not framed their regulations.
A two-year review by the Committee on Subordinate Legislation has shown that 31 new Acts and 12 amendments had not been fully or partially converted into government orders.
These include several key laws like the Whistleblowers Protection Act (passed May 2014) whose rules have not been notified until date — issues like providing safeguards against disclosures affecting the sovereignty and integrity of India and security of the state need to be incorporated.
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The Energy Conservation Act (September 2001) and its amendment in August 2010, have only been partially covered while the Central Vigilance Commission Act (September 2003) has rules pending to dovetail with the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act (January 2014).
Central University Act (March 2009) has not been translated into codes for award of degrees, staff service conditions, admission procedures, course of study and the constitution, powers and functions of the university authorities.
At least 177 sections of the Companies Act (August 2013) are held up because rules can only be made after provisions relating to National Company Law Tribunal and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal are enforced. These have been challenged in the Supreme Court.
“The delay in framing rules/regulations on an average is about 4 years and 8 months,” says the Committee in its draft report. “In fact, it has been noted that the ministries not only tend to inordinately delay the framing but also seek extension of six months at a time for completing the said process.”
The panel has, therefore, recommended that all ministries and departments frame “essential rules” at the time of introduction of the Bill while the “rest of subordinate legislation may be framed within three months of the coming into force of the Act”.
“With a view to ensure timely framing of rules/regulations under acts passed by Parliament, the committee recommends that framing of draft rules should be initiated simultaneously with the drafting of the proposed Bill,” it says.
“The Committee also recommends that the time extension granted to ministries may be curtailed to 30 days at a time for framing. In case of delay, the ministry must ensure that a statement explaining the reasons for delay should invariably be laid along with the rules farmed after three months.”
Earlier, the ministries were given six months — after an Act was passed — to frame its rules but had the option to approach the Committee for further extensions, without any time limit, for completing the process.
Parliament lays down the broad policy framework of the legislation in the form of an Act and leaves it to the executive, experts and technocrats to frame working details through rules, regulations, bye-laws, schemes or orders.
These subordinate legislation have to be published in the gazette and laid in both houses of parliament for the Committee on Subordinate Legislation to examine if the rules are within the contours of the act.
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