Law Ministry unrelenting, HRD scraps proposal to amend IIT Act

Amendment would have empowered the Centre to establish new institutes without Parliament’s approval

Written by Ritika Chopra | New Delhi | Published: May 14, 2016 2:08:14 am
New Delhi: Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu and HRD Minister Smriti Irani . PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla(PTI4_13_2016_000056B) New Delhi: Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu and HRD Minister Smriti Irani . PTI Photo by Subhav Shukla(PTI4_13_2016_000056B)

THE HRD Ministry has been forced to scrap its plans to move an amendment to the IIT Act, empowering the Centre to establish new institutes without seeking Parliament’s approval, after Law Ministry toughened its stand against the proposal.

Sources said that Law Secretary G Narayana Raju in a meeting with R Subrahmanyam, additional secretary at HRD Ministry, this week reiterated his ministry’s reasons for blocking the proposal. He held that the power to establish an “institute of national importance” is the sole prerogative of Parliament and cannot be delegated to the Centre.

With the Law Ministry not relenting, the HRD Ministry was forced to drop the idea and will move a fresh Cabinet note seeking to set up the seven new IITs (six in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jammu, Kerala and Karnataka and conversion of ISM-Dhanbad into an IIT) through the traditional mode — by seeking Parliament’s assent.

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The Indian Express had first reported on April 27 that the HRD Ministry had circulated a note seeking the Cabinet’s sanction for introducing a clause in the law by which the government could set up a new IIT by just adding its name under the proposed ‘Schedule 2’, instead of amending the Act. As per current provisions, the Centre does not need Parliament’s nod to tweak the Schedule of an Act. It can be done with the Cabinet’s nod. But the proposal, justified on the ground that it would reduce legislative burden of Parliament, was disapproved of by Law Ministry.

At the PMO’s behest, the HRD Ministry had sent the Cabinet note back to the Law Ministry for its concurrence, but with the latter not relenting the proposal has been buried for good, sources said.

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