Updated: January 20, 2015 8:50:50 am
Having signed nine ordinances since the NDA government assumed office eight months ago, President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday cautioned that the ordinance route should be taken only in “compelling circumstances”.
“To meet certain exigencies and under compelling circumstances, the framers of the Constitution deemed it necessary to confer limited legislative power upon the Executive by way of promulgation of ordinances when the Legislature is not in session and circumstances justified immediate legislation. The framers also deemed it necessary to impose certain restrictions on this extraordinary legislative power by constitutionally mandating replacement of such ordinances within a timeframe by the legislators,” said Mukherjee.
Addressing students and faculty of central universities through teleconferencing, he emphasised the need to build consensus in the law-making process. Describing the act of passing a Bill as the easy part of law making, Mukherjee said the difficulty lies in building consensus among various stakeholders. “When the Parliament fails in discharging its law making role or enacts law without discussion, it breaches the trust reposed in it by the people… Parliament must not yield its space for legislating and policymaking to mass mobilisation and street protests…” Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee’s comments come weeks after he sought clarification from the government on the ordinance issue. As first reported by The Indian Express, Mukherjee called three senor ministers — Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari — on December 31 to explain the urgency behind the ordinance to amend the Land Acquisition Act.
There were disagreements even within the Cabinet. Three ministers had questioned the need for the ordinances that ranged from amendments to the Land Acquisition Act to the regularisation of e-rickshaws and the merging of the PIO and OCI cards.
The Modi government promulgated its first ordinance within days of taking charge to change the rules for appointment of former TRAI chairman Nripendra Mishra as the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. While the President has signed nine ordinances so far, the tenth — dealing with amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act — which has been cleared by Cabinet is yet to be sent to Mukherjee, given his evident reluctance to sign on the dotted line.
The President on Monday also criticised the disruptive tactics of the opposition, saying that a “noisy minority should not be allowed to gag a patient majority,” although, in a parliamentary democracy, it is the mandate of the majority to rule and the opposition has the right to “oppose, expose and if the numbers permit, to depose.”
He highlighted the need to maintain discipline and decorum in the House and to conduct parliamentary proceedings in a spirit of cooperation, harmony and purpose. He drew comparisons between the sittings of the first three Lok Sabhas — 677, 581 and 578 sittings — to that of the last three Lok Sabhas — 356, 332 and 357 — to make his point.
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