Ordinances: A necessary Evil ??

Recently Narendra Modi led NDA government brought an ordinance to change Land acquisition and settlement (amendment) act 2013. The Ordinance has been an issues of debate for multiple reasons. One objection raised by opposition parties is that this ordinance is a pro-capitalist one and is against the socialist ideas of forefathers of India Constitution. The other major problem according to them is bringing an ordinance for such an important bill, while the same NDA highly opposed a similar move by previous UPA government when they brought Food Security Ordinance.

An Ordinance may relate to any subject that the Parliament has the power to make laws upon. Basic things to know about Ordinances making are following :

  1. Legislature is not in session: The President can only promulgate an Ordinance when either of the two Houses of Parliament is not in session.
  2. Immediate action is required: The President cannot promulgate an Ordinance unless he is satisfied that there are circumstances that require taking ‘immediate action’.
  3. Parliamentary approval during session: Ordinances must be approved by Parliament within six weeks of re-assembling or they shall be considered void. Ordinance can also be removed in case resolutions disapproving the Ordinance are passed by both the Houses.

Number of national Ordinances promulgated in India since 1990

With regard to issuing Ordinances as with other matters, the President acts on the advice of the Council of Ministers. While the Ordinance is promulgated in the name of the President, in fact, it is promulgated on the advice of the Council of Ministers. This is not the first time that central government is taking the easy route towards achieving their targets. India has seen 645 ordinance till date with 5th Lok-Sabha contributing with 99 ordinances alone under the leadership of then the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

The reason for adding the concept of Ordinances in Indian constitution was to allow governments to make laws when Parliament is not in session, only when the law needs to be brought urgently. During the years this provision has been used for multiple reasons other than the one it was supposed to be used for, including having insufficient MPs in Upper House or to gain political advantage in elections. The route of Ordinance is usually justified with the excuse of un-supportive opposition or urgency of the bill proposed. A better way to demonstrate reformist views is to create conditions conducive to getting the Bills passed in the House and taking the opposition together. The Supreme Court have argued that if Ordinance making is made a usual practice, creating an ‘Ordinance raj’, the courts could strike down re-promulgated Ordinances.

Most democracies doesn’t have this concept. The practice in case of an emergent situation is to call an emergency session of the legislative bodies. We can also try to create such a system where its misuse can be minimised. We also have a possible solution in form of Joint sitting of Parliament, but it has been used only thrice in past 68 years.

We at Know India believe that this kind of behaviour on the part of government to create a ‘Ordinance Raj’ and promulgated Ordinance on will is against the spirit of Democracy. This is a tool which is supposed to be used in case of emergency and that is how it should be used hence forward, not as a tool to solve problems regarding insufficient numbers on the floor of House.

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