When Jaitley opposed the ?ordinance raj?

The Hindu Business Line, December 25, 2014

In taking the ordinance route, the Modi government seems no different from the earlier UPA regime. However, its stance seems to have changed when facing the other side of the table.

In September 2013, the Monsoon Session of Parliament took up a discussion on the Food Security Ordinance issued by the UPA. Arun Jaitley, then Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabah, lambasted the government?s decision to take the ordinance route to implement the legislation days ahead of the session.

?The Food Security Ordinance is an abuse of the legislative power to issue ordinances,? he had said. The UPA-II issued about 25 ordinances in five years, with an average of five a year. The NDA government has brought four ordinances in six months ? the Textile Undertakings (Nationalisation) Laws (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance, Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation (Amendment) Ordinance and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Ordinance 2014.

These were brought in to appoint former TRAI Chairman Nripendra Mishra as Principal Secretary in the Prime Minister?s Office, allowing 49 per cent FDI in insurance, and so on.

During the UPA-II regime, Jaitley, a legal luminary, had explained when a government can take the ordinance route.

?An Ordinance under Article 123 is issued when issues of extreme urgency arise and cannot await a forthcoming Parliament session. The matter must be of such urgency between the date of issuance of the ordinance and Parliament session that it is difficult to wait for that period. The ordinance in the instant case was issued on July 5, 2013 and Parliament was convened on August 5, 2013. What is it that had to happen between these 30 days that could not wait a legislative discussion and a legislative approval to the Bill?? he had asked. ?This is a gross abuse of the ordinance issuing power.?

Now, as Finance Minister, Jaitley seems to be supporting the same route. ?The ordinance demonstrates the firm commitment and determination of the government to reforms. It also announces to the rest of the world, including investors, that this country can no longer wait even if one of the Houses waits indefinitely to take up its own agenda,? he said earlier this week, justifying the Cabinet?s decision.

Opposition parties say the BJP has forgotten its criticism of the UPA?s ?ordinance raj?.

Parliamentary procedures

?To appease the domestic corporates and international finance capital, the Modi government is seeking to implement further neo-liberal financial and economic reforms to permit them to maximise their profit generation by further exploiting the Indian people and resources. This, the Modi government is doing by bypassing parliamentary procedures?. It was the same BJP that shouted from the roof tops against ?ordinance raj? during the last 10 years of the UPA governments. This is a shameless volte face,? said CPI(M) leader in Rajya Sabha, Sitaram Yechury.

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