Friday, February 13, 2009

Mysteries of law making

There is an interesting article in The Hindu by the CPI National Secretary, and MP, D.Raja (A design to block opportunities)revealing not just how hastily the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation in Posts and Services) Bill, 2008 was passed by the Rajya Sabha in December 2008, but how key changes were introduced in the Bill stealthily. The Bill, everyone avers, was required because till now reservations for SCs, and STs (and for OBCs)have been provided through executive orders. Raja's main objection is against S.4(1) of the Bill which removes 47 government institutions from the purview of quota. (The list can be enlarged by the government).

The Bill has a long trajectory. The Bill had originally included the OBCs in its ambit, and was introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2004. The Parliamentary Standing committee report on the bill was submitted in June 2005. Raja says the Govt. rejected the report and inserted S.4(1) which was not there in the Bill, and which the committee did not recommend. More important, the Govt. did not consult the relevant Ministries. Sure enough, there will be lot of heat in the Lok Sabha and amendments will be suggested to this Bill, which then may have to get the clearance afresh in Rajya Sabha. The summary of the Bill, provided by the PRS Legislative Research,is here.

My interest in this post is on the procedural issue: Just who had managed to insert S.4(1) in the Bill, when it is likely to ignite a huge political controversy? It will remain a mystery, unless one goes into the various stages of the evolution of this Bill and the various hands it passed through till it was passed by the Rajya Sabha.

The original Bill referred to the Standing Committee is here.
The Standing Committee report can also be read here, courtesy PRS. The summary of the 2004 Bill is also available here.
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