Over 100 bills from states in queue for government’s nod
The political stalemate between the Congress-led UPA Government and the belligerent Opposition has stalled passage of over 200 Bills in Parliament.
Most of these Bills have been held up as the government has failed to get powerful chief ministers and their parties on board in bringing key legislations.
As if in almost like an act of retribution, over 100 Bills passed by various state governments and sent to the Centre for approval are pending before the UPA Government. Majority of the Bills, nearly 70, have been sent by the BJP and other non-Congress chief ministers, many of them pending since 2006.
The Bills like Madhya Pradesh’s anti-terrorism, Himachal law making it compulsory to support aged parents; Karnataka’s Bill against bootleggers, and drug peddlers; to Punjab’s land reforms Bill have failed to pass the Centre’s muster. Karnataka and Tamil Nadu each has 10 Bills pending.
Adding to the Centre’s poor performance are the Bills sent by the Congress-run states, and they too have been lobbying hard to get their legislations approved.
The Congress-ruled Maharashtra has 18 Bills pending, maximum for any state. It is not just the policy paralysis tag that has come to define the UPA Government, the relations between the states and the Centre has never been so frosty, with the later accusing the former of usurping its right to have own local laws.
Under Article 200 read with Article 254 (2) of the Constitution of India, the Bills passed by the state Assemblies have to be approved by the Centre. The Ministry of Home Affairs, the coordinating agency, send the Bills to ministries depending on the subject of the Bills, and even the Law Ministry for vetting. The Bills are checked if they are in tune with the Central Government’s policy or in consonance with the Central laws before recommending for final assent by the President.
According to the figures presented in Parliament recently, 105 Bills are pending before the Home Ministry, out of which 80 for the past three years.
Last Month, MoS (Home Affairs) Mullappally Ramachandran told the Lok Sabha: “the state legislations are examined in consultation with the Central ministries departments concerned from three angles -- repugnancy with Central laws; deviation from national or Central policy; and legal and Constitutional validity.”
As the Opposition parties repeatedly accuse the Centre of holding up Bills, and asking when these will be cleared. Ramachandran added: “Whenever necessary, the state governments are advised to modify or amend provisions of such legislations, Bills keeping the Centre’s concerns. Sometimes, discussions are also held with the state governments and ministries, departments of the Government of India with a view of arriving at a decision expeditiously. Hence, no time frame can be fixed in this behalf.”
In case of the pending Bills, the biggest attack on the government has come from the BJP, which often accuses the government of holding up legislations like the anti-terrorism laws, and host of Bills covering educational institutions.
One of the pending Bills is the Madhya Pradesh Government’s Terrorism and Disruptive Activities and Control of Organised Crimes Bill, 2010, passed by the state assembly on March 25, 2010.
The Bill seeks to award death penalty for terror attacks, organised crimes, contract killings, sale of explosives, kidnapping for ransom, money laundering. It also gives the investigating officer powers to intercept telephone calls.
The Centre has been holding the legislation on the grounds that the Central Law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has sufficient stringent provisions to deal with terror activities.
The government has used the same ground to send back the GUJCOC Bill, 2003, passed by the Gujarat Assembly in 2004. The Bill was sent to the Centre for Presidential assent, but was returned in 2009 as the Centre suggested certain changes.