Arun Jaitley hints at joint
sitting of Parliament
to push ordinances
January 10, 2015
Arun Jaitley has hinted that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led
National Democratic Alliance may call a joint sitting of
Parliament to push through coal and land acquisition reform
In an interview with
Open magazine, when asked whether his government will convene a
joint sitting of Parliament, Jaitley said: ?There is a
constitutional provision (for it). We will go ahead and resort
to all procedures in the Constitution for legislating on the
measures that we have planned.?
Jaitley said an
ordinance is both parliamentary and democratic. Some critics
have said it is a tool to bypass Parliament.
provides for it. Both houses of Parliament have to approve it.
We bring ordinances only when there is an element of urgency.
And in the three ordinances (that have been) promulgated, there
was extreme urgency. The changes that (have been) brought in the
coal sector are aimed at facilitating a transparent and
non-discretionary method of allocation of coal blocks. It will
enhance the potential of the sector and cut down the cost of
opposition parties which stalled proceedings of the Rajya Sabha
during the winter session, Jaitley said parties in the
opposition have made obstructionism their principal tool of
politics. ?If the Rajya Sabha is not allowed to function, the
nation cannot stop functioning.?
The NDA has a clear
majority in the Lok Sabha but has only 57 members in the
245-member Rajya Sabha. In both Houses together, it has 387 of
The Coal Mines
(Special Provisions) Bill, 2014, passed by the Lok Sabha on 12
December, was vehemently opposed in the Rajya Sabha by most
opposition parties, including the Congress, which wanted it to
be referred to a parliamentary standing committee for further
seeks to replace an ordinance brought by the central government
in October to comply with the Supreme Court?s ruling that
cancelled the allotment of more than 200 coal blocks made
between 1993 and 2010. The ordinance, which received
presidential assent on 21 October, listed the procedure for
fresh bidding by companies for the mines. If a joint sitting of
the lower and upper houses takes place, it will only be the
fourth in India?s parliamentary history. In past instances, the
Dowry Prohibition Act was passed on 9 May 1961; the Banking
Service Commission Repeal Bill was passed on 16 May in 1978 and
the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002, was passed on 26 March
Asked about the West
Bengal government?s stand that it would not implement the
amendments made to the land acquisition Act through the
ordinance, Jaitley said the state government is free to do so.
?But in an era of competitive federalism, these obstructionist
positions will only hurt the state. It will deprive people of
the state of decent infrastructure facilities.?
The Union cabinet
last month used its executive powers to make it easier to
acquire land in five key sectors including security and defence,
infrastructure, power and affordable housing, though it left the
level of compensation unchanged. Indian industry has been
lobbying for dilution of the so-called restrictive rules defined
by the land acquisition law put in place by the Congress-led
United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
Jaitley said those
only the ?reality-challenged? can support the Land Act of the
UPA Government. ?Creation of smart cities, townships, industrial
corridors, business centres, defence projects, cantonments,
ports, nuclear installations, building of highways, irrigation
projects and dams have long gestation periods. They cannot be
completed in five years. If the provisions of the UPA bill were
in place, they cannot be completed in five years. We would have
been a nation of incomplete projects because of defectively
drafted legislation,? he added.
On the state of the
Indian economy, Jaitley said the challenge is to expedite
investment. ?The green shoots (in the economy) are already
visible. But they have been patchy. The green shoots have to
become a pattern. And that is when I can say that our growth
trajectory is much faster. We are moving up, and we have to move
up a lot more,? he added.
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