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1951-January 2015: History
Ordinance Raj: 8 ordinances issued in 225 days of Modi govt
Narendra Modiled NDA government has issued eight ordinances in 225 days since assuming office on May 26 — an average one every 28 days — but previous Congress governments have been far from shy of promulgating ordinances, holding a near unassailable record given their long tenures. Modi’s “governance through ordinance” model is as good or bad as late Indira Gandhi’s who was PM for nearly 16 years or 5,825 days. Indira had the distinction of issuing the highest number of 208 ordinances during her premiership, an average one ordinance every 28 days or same as that of Modi who has been in office for just over seven months.
Unlike the Modi government that lacks a majority in Rajya Sabha, earlier Congress regimes did not face such a dis advantage, lending weight to the view that governments have seen ordinances as legitimate Constitutional options. India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru ruled for a little short of 17 years or 6,126 days and issued as many as 200 ordinances, second only to his daughter. His average was one ordinance every 31 days.
If we rank PMs according to the number of ordinances their government issued, the top 4 slots go to Congress for the highest number of ordinances, followed by BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee promulgating 58 ordinances and Rajiv Gandhi with 37.
Lal Bahadur Shastri brought in only nine ordinances during his 581-day stint as PM, an ordinance every 65 days. Shastri was premier from June 9, 1964 to January 11, 1966. Performance of Manmohan Singh is praiseworthy too as he brought in just 61 ordinances in his ten-year rule — an ordinance every 60 days.
As far as compulsion of bringing in ordinances is con cerned, Modi is hampered while both Indira and Nehru had strong majorities for most of their terms in both the Houses of Parliament. During the Emergency between 197577, the Indira government issued 51 ordinances.
In the last winter session of Parliament, Rajya Sabha was stalled by a united opposition, resulting in non-passage of key bills in the upper House including those cleared by Lok Sabha such as the Insurance Bill and Coal Mines. In the winter session as compared to LS that worked for 98% of scheduled time, the RS worked for 59%.
The government brought in ordinances to start coal auction and allow FDI in insurance. It also brought in an ordinance on land acquisition among others. On Tuesday, the President promulgated the eighth ordinance of Modi government.
Coalition governments:the worst
Jan 21 2015
`UF govt issued record 3 ordinances a month'
The Narendra Modi government has countered the opposition's criticism over a series of ordinances introduced by it, arguing that governments in the past have adopted a similar approach, while maintaining that the current administration's stance was necessitated by obstruction of key legislations by political parties in Rajya Sabha. Sources said since Independence, 637 ordinances were promulgated over a 62year period, which is over 10 annually. While 456 ordinances were issued during the 50 years that Congress was in power, some of the coalition governments were the most frequent users.
For instance, the United Front government saw the passage of 61 bills during its term in office but issued a record 77 ordinances -which works out to three a month.
Quoting parliamentary data, sources said during Jawaharlal Nehru's stint, 70 ordinances were issued, while Indira Gandhi's term from 1971-77 saw 77 such actions.During the five years of Rajiv Gandhi's government, there were 35 such instances, while there were 77 during Narasimha Rao's five-year tenure.
During the Modi government's seven-month term, eight ordinances have been promulgated, including those to amend provisions related to land acquisition laws and those on coal, mining and insurance, prompting protests from opposition parties. “Being in government, we have tried to take opposition parties on board on all issues, but the whole country has seen their attitude in Rajya Sabha during the winter session,“ said a government official defending the ordinance route.
On Monday , President Pranab Mukherjee, who has signed the ordinances, said these were meant for specific purpose “to meet an extraordinary situation under extraordinary circumstances“ but maintained that a noisy minority could not be allowed to “gag“ a patient majority in Parliament.
NDA mulls way to tackle RS roadblock
As the Budget session approaches, the Modi government’s main concern is to replace the ordinances with bills and ensure their passage in Parliament. What the government fears is the roadblock in Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA lacks the numbers, something the opposition capitalized on during the previous session to block a slew of reforms legislations.
Recourse to a joint session of the two Houses is under consideration, but it will be the last option if the opposition remains unrelenting and forces the hand of the government.
Preparing for the session, dates for which will be finalized by the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA), senior ministers of the Modi government, including parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu and his junior minister M A Naqvi, met at the Parliament House to chalk out strategies. Naidu’s suggestion was to first use the traditional and conventional ways of talking to the opposition parties. But some were of the view that the government should flex its muscles, sources said.
Re-promulgating without placing before house
SC warning on this kind of fraud
`Should Not Be Re-Promulgated Without Being Placed Before House'
The Supreme Court held on Monday that re-promulgation of ordinances without being placed before the legislature was constitutionally impermissible as it amounted to bypassing the legislative body which was the primary source of lawmaking authority in a par liamentary democracy .
A seven-judge constitution bench held that government's decision to bring ordinance can be reviewed by judiciary and said that it was obligatory on the gov ernment to place the ordinance before the legislative body for its approval. Failure of governments, at the Centre as well as states, to place ordinances before Parliament and state legislatures would itself constitute a fraud on the Constitution.
The majority verdict, by Justices AK Goel, UU Lalit, DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, held that “re-promulgation defeats the constitutional scheme under which a limited power to frame ordinances has been conferred upon the President and governors“.
“The danger of re-promulgation lies in the threat which it poses to the sovereignty of Parliament and the state legislatures which have been constituted as primary law-givers under the Constitution. Open legislative debate and discussion provides sunshine which separates secrecy of ordinance-making from transparent and accountable governance through lawmaking,“ it said.
Chief Justice TS Thakur, who was heading the bench, also agreed with majority verdict on the issue but differed on one aspect. “I am in complete agreement with the view expressed by my esteemed brother Chandrachud, that repeated repromulgation of the ordinances was a fraud on the Constitution especially when the government of the time appears to have persistently avoided the placement of the ordinances before the legislature.“ The Chief Justice, however, questioned whether it is mandatory for the government to place the ordinance before legislative body saying that the matter should be examined in a separate proceeding.
Justice Madan B Lokur, also differed stating, “There could be situations, though very rare, when re-promulgation is necessary .“
The court said that apex court's `hope and trust' that lawmaking through re-promulgated ordinances would not become the norm had been belied by successive governments.