Ordinance a handy tool for UPA 2

Nat

When the Centre on Tuesday cleared a controversial ordinance to undo a Supreme Court judgment disqualifying MPs and MLAs convicted of a criminal offence, it was only following a pattern.

Since 2009, the UPA government has taken the ordinance route 27 times. Tuesday's ordinance was the 10th this year. And if the cabinet does not develop cold feet, at least three more are coming over the next few days.

The persistent logjam in Parliament has seen the government take the easy way out by issuing ordinances and trying to get House approval in the following session. But the failure to do so has not deterred the government from re-issuing some ordinances.

Article 123 of the Constitution empowers the President to promulgate an ordinance when Parliament is not in session, but not without conditions. "The condition precedent for issuance of ordinances is that there must be extraordinary circumstances. I can understand if the government issues an ordinance to deal with a disaster. But I don't see any urgent necessity in issuing an ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers from being debarred from the House. This is unfortunate," eminent jurist and former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee said.

Among the ordinances issued this year are the National Food Security Ordinance, Readjustment of Representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Ordinance, which allows EC to reserve or de-reserve seats meant for SCs and STs without waiting for delimitation, and the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Ordinance, which paved the way for an elected body to replace the government-appointed Board of Governors to head the Council.

"Issuance of ordinances has become a matter of partisan politics, aimed more at vote banks than anything else. Yesterday's ordinance is highly questionable also because the Bill in this regard was introduced in the Rajya Sabha and was referred to the Standing Committee. It is now the property of the House. Where was the urgency that forced the government to issue the ordinance? Can we term the possibility that one or two leaders who are part of the alliance, could lose membership of the House if they are convicted as a necessity? On merits, this ordinance amounts to subversion of Constitution," former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash Kashyap said.

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