A Member of Parliament, speaking on condition of anonymity, says there is a strong case for parliamentary oversight of central agencies and an audit of the functioning of the ED and CBI, etc. While the government, he said, cites the 10-year tenure of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States to justify the extension granted to the director of the ED, it is not. interested in following the surveillance protocol to which the director of the FBI is subjected.
The decision to promulgate the Orders just days before Parliament resumed for the November 29 winter session also drew criticism. Article 123 of the Constitution grants certain legislative powers to the President of India to promulgate an ordinance when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session. However, he goes on to state that “the president cannot issue an ordinance if he is not convinced that there are circumstances which necessitate taking” immediate action “.
According to Pandit HN Kunzru, involved in shaping the Indian Constitution, the fundamental reason the executive has the power to issue an ordinance was “to deal with situations where an emergency in the country required urgent action. “.
In the first 30 years of our parliamentary democracy, there was an ordinance promulgated for 10 bills introduced in Parliament. Over the next 30 years, the ratio was two ordinances for 10 bills. At the 16th Lok Sabha (2014-19), the number increased to 3.5 prescriptions for 10 tickets. In the current Lok Sabha, it is, so far, 3.3 ordinances for 10 bills.
Between 2014 and 2019, during the Narendra Modi government’s first term, the number soared to 10 prescriptions per year. About ten ordinances were promulgated on the eve of the 2019 general election.
The Modi government has tabled more ordinances in seven years than the previous UPA government in two full terms. According to data compiled by PRS Legislative Research and the Lok Sabha Secretariat, 61 ordinances were enacted between May 2004 and May 2014. But after the National Democratic Alliance took power in 2014, more than 76 bills were passed. subject to the way of ordinances.
The figures are indicative of the fact that the current regime prefers the faster executive route to enact laws rather than through Parliament as envisioned by the country’s ancestors.
Interestingly, there are only three parliamentary democracies in the world that allow the ordinance route: India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The practice in India was adopted from the Government of India Act, 1935, where the Governor General could do whatever he wanted. In all other countries, Parliament must be convened to pass a law.
The experience of the last seven years suggests that the BJP government prefers “governance by Jhatka”, as one bureaucrat puts it. The political establishment is secretive and prefers closet confidants and kitchen cabinets to carry out their orders. A highly politicized bureaucracy emerged during this period with bureaucrats ready to serve politicians and ruling political parties, he added.
On November 12, the government also appointed the former chairman of the Central Council of Direct Taxes (CBDT), PC Mody, as secretary general of the Rajya Sabha. In the process, he opened the door for PPK Ramacharyulu, a retired IAS officer from the Uttarakhand cadre, just 10 weeks after his appointment as secretary general. Mody is the first IRS officer to hold this position.
The message is strong and clear. The government needs an engaged bureaucracy in addition to other equally engaged state pillars. Amen.
(The writer works as an editor at the National Herald. Opinions are personal)