Amending land law

Agreed, an ordinance should be issued only in the rarest of rare cases and laws should be passed through Parliament after a proper debate.

sanjiv@tribunemail.com

Agreed, an ordinance should be issued only in the rarest of rare cases and laws should be passed through Parliament after a proper debate. By issuing the third ordinance in such a short time, the Modi government has exposed itself to the charge of thwarting the established legislative process and promoting "ordinance raj". But are we a democracy in the true sense? How often is a law passed after an informed debate? How many are present in a House when a law is passed, leave alone their interest and ability to discuss complicated issues of governance? Barring a few cases in which public interest is whipped up by the media, laws are hurriedly pushed through at the Central and state levels. Even a budget, the most important financial statement of a government, is usually passed without a proper debate. 

Laws cannot be delayed just because some opposition members have decided not to allow Parliament to function. An ordinance per se is not bad. What it tends to achieve needs to understood. People of the country have given a mandate to the ruling party and it is for the party's government to decide how best to serve the country. If it frequently takes the ordinance route, it is for the Opposition to highlight its objections, if any, and people to judge who is right and whether democratic practices are more important than substantive issues of industrialisation and job creation. An ordinance has to be ratified by Parliament within six months. If the Opposition-controlled Rajya Sabha holds up a Bill, the Constitution empowers the ruling party to call a joint session and get the Bill through.  

The BJP first supported the law providing for liberal compensation to the land owners and is now diluting it to boost Modi's "Make in India" campaign. There is obviously need to balance the interests of farmers and industrialists as also of producers and consumers. Given its pro-business image and urban-centric vote base, the Modi government will be hard put to justify in rural India the apparently anti-farmer changes introduced through the ordinance.

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