July 16, 2014 2:31:43 am
The Rajya Sabha Tuesday cleared the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill by a voice vote, with the TMC, SP, BSP and BJD supporting the government’s stand on the matter. This removes all legal hurdles in the appointment of former TRAI chief Nripendra Misra as principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Bill replaces an ordinance which was promulgated on May 28, after which Misra had joined the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Congress stood alone in its opposition to the ordinance route to facilitate the appointment. Party leader Manishankar Aiyar also claimed certain TRAI rulings during Misra’s tenure had been criticised for lack of transparency, which does not reflect well on his competence. The ordinance, he added, showed a “whimsical” streak in governance.
A statutory resolution to disapprove the ordinance on TRAI, brought by T Subbarami Reddy of the Congress, was defeated.
Replying to the debate on the Bill, Law and Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the measure was brought to remove an anomaly in the existing law that allows a former TRAI chairman to take up a private job two years after retirement, but bars the person from taking up a government job. “The scope of the bill is very limited and it is to create equality among all regulatory bodies,” he said. He said the 1967-batch IAS officer, who retired as TRAI chairman in 2009, is a man of integrity and has no connection with PM Narendra Modi, nor has he served in Gujarat.
Reddy said the ordinance measure is like a “Brahmastra”, which should be used rarely by the government.
On her support for the Bill, BSP chief Mayawati said this should not be linked to the disproportionate assets cases against her as she has been cleared by the Supreme Court and the CBI has already filed a closure report. Ramgopal Yadav of the SP said he could vouch for Misra’s efficiency and honesty as he had “seen him function at close quarters”.
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