With the land acquisition ordinance set to lapse on April 5 and a united opposition blocking the amendment bill in the Rajya Sabha, the government is set to prorogue parliament after March 20 to facilitate re-promulgation of the ordinance.
While the budget session, which began on February 20, is set to continue till May 8, a month-long recess is scheduled from March 20 to April 20. But the government is likely to prorogue either one of the houses or both houses so that the ordinance can be issued afresh.
While an ordinance has a life of six months, it has to be approved by parliament within six weeks of the commencement of the session which follows its promulgation. An ordinance cannot be re-promulgated while the house is in session.
Indicating the government’s move, official sources said there are at least a dozen precedents of parliament being prorogued under similar circumstances. Under Article 85(2) of the Constitution, the President is vested with the power to prorogue (end a session) both houses of parliament.
hile the Lok Sabha has passed the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 with nine amendments, the opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha have unitedly opposed it. With the NDA government not having the required numbers in the Rajya Sabha, the only option before it is to call a joint session, but for this the bill has to be first defeated in the Rajya Sabha.
“We need one more round of discussions with parties to overcome differences,” said sources.
But showing no signs of letting up, opposition parties, including the Congress, Left, Trinamool Congress, JD (U), Samajwadi Party, RJD and JD(S), have planned a march from parliament to Rashtrapati Bhawan on Tuesday. In a move to build pressure against re-promulgation of the ordinance, they are set to submit a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee against the bill.
The BJP also faces stiff opposition to the bill from its ally Shiv Sena.
Meanwhle, the future of two other pieces of legislation — The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 and The Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2015 — also remains uncertain. The Rajya Sabha constituted two select committees on March 5 to examine the bills. The committees were to submit their reports by March 18, so that the house could consider them by March 20. However, it now seems that the committees will not be able to complete their work in a week, necessitating an extension of the first leg of the session beyond March 19.
Senior Congress member Digvijaya Singh, backed by party colleague Pradip Bhattacharya, D Raja of the CPI, Tiruchi Siva of the DMK and Tapan Sen of the CPI(M), today called for an extension of the tenure of the two select committees.
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha during zero hour, they said the working time of just five days was inadequate for a deeper understanding and discussion. “The report cannot be completed in five days,” said Singh, who is a member of the select committee on the coal mines bill.
But Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the tenure of the two committees was decided when they were set up and nothing more could be done.
Official sources said any demand for extension of their tenure “would be a breach of a gentlemen’s promise”, because the one-week stipulation was a part of the deal struck between the two sides. They said the understanding was reached between Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on the one side and Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI(M) floor leader Sitaram Yechury and Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien on the other.
“This understanding was brought to the notice of the chair also,” they said. Making light of the contention that the time was inadequate, the sources said, “On the contrary, one senior opposition leader was saying that even two days would be enough.” The opposition wanted to make the point that it was united and could force its view on the government. Having done this, they should not cause any delay in passing the bills, they said.