Even as the government managed to get the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill passed amidst the din in the Lok Sabha on Thursday,it faced embarrassment in the Rajya Sabha when Opposition parties as well as those supporting the UPA government from outside forced deferment of a Bill that aims to allow the Border Security Force (BSF) to operate in places other than border areas.
The governments attempt to hold a discussion on the much-delayed Whistleblowers Bill was also stalled by the Opposition,which sought more time to study it.
The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill,2010,which provides for setting up a mechanism for investigating complaints of corruption and irregularities against members of the higher judiciary,was introduced in the Lok Sabha last year with amendments,the most significant being the one that seeks to restrain judges from making unwarranted comments against the conduct of any constitutional authority.
As per the revised Bill passed by the lower house,any judge making oral comments against constitutional functionaries would be liable to be punished for judicial misconduct.
Law Minister Salman Khurshid told the House that the legislation strikes a balance between maximising judicial independence and laying down accountability at the same time for members of the higher judiciary.
Meanwhile,in the upper House,Home Minister P Chidambarams repeated assertion that the BSF Bill would not result in any transgression into the powers of the state government failed to convince the Opposition. A united Opposition asked him to defer the Bill so that the issue could also be discussed at the meeting of chief ministers on internal security called by the Prime Minister,expected to be held on April 16.
Replying to the concerns raised by the members,Chidambaram said there should not be any doubt that the states consent would be taken when the central paramilitary forces are deployed there. This,he pointed out,is clearly provided for in the Constitution.
Among the parties that wanted the Bill deferred,on the plea that it would allow the Centre to encroach on the rights of the state,were NDA members like BJP and JD(U),Left,AIADMK and BSP and SP.
After hearing the opposition,Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan announced the Bill was being deferred.
FM word on Bengal debt brings cheer in TMC
Trinamool Congress is seeing a political victory of sorts in Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjees statement in the Rajya Sabha recognising the huge debt burden on West Bengal,Kerala and Punjab as a special case among states and assuring that the Centre would look into it to build a healthy relation with these states.
Mukherjee said on Wednesday his ministry had now appointed a small group to look into the cases.
Trinamool sources said Mukherjees statement was finally admitting the need for special measures by the Centre in assisting Bengal and similarly debt-ridden states in managing this burden.