The government is likely to promulgate the land ordinance for an unprecedented fourth time after the conclusion of Parliament's Monsoon Session, with no consensus still in sight on the contentious bill.
Not an unusual move
Sources in the government see nothing unusual in the re-promulgation of the land ordinance although Congress has fiercely attacked its re-promulgation on May 31. They said at least 15 ordinances have been promulgated twice or more.
Congress, which has been opposing the new land bill brought by the Narendra Modi government, had fiercely attacked it when the ordinance was re-promulgated on May 31.
Sources in the government, however, say that at least six ordinances have been promulgated thrice during various governments including UPA-II.
UPA II had promulgated two ordinances thrice---the 'Re-adjustment of Representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies Ordinance, 2013' between January 30, 2013 and Septmeber 27, 2013, and 'The Securities Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013' between July 18, 2013 and March 28, 2014 in the 15th Lok Sabha.
'The Buidling and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service), 1996' was promulgated twice by the Congress government led by P V Narsimha Rao and repromulgated again by United Front Government headed by H D Deve Gowda.
The same happened with the Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Ordinance, 1996, the Arbitration and Conciliation Ordinance, 1996 and The Depository Ordinance, 1996 which were promulgated twice by the Rao government and once more by the Deve Gowda dispensation, which succeeded him.
Why it has to be re-promulgated
An ordinance, which has a life span of six months otherwise, has to be re-promulgated if it does not get the endorsement of Parliament within six weeks of the start of a session. Monsoon Session starts on July 21 and ends on August 3.
The government has so far maintained that re-promulgation was necessary for maintaining its continuity and providing a framework to compensate people whose land is acquired.
Chances of a joint session is bleak
Sources in the government indicate there is little possibility of the government, which has just completed the first year of its five-year term, opting for the joint session route to pass the bill and invite further criticism for pushing the law 'through force'.
Parliament Committee seeks extension
The Joint Committee of Parliament headed by BJP MP S S Ahluwalia, which is looking into the contentious legislation, meanwhile plans to seek a two-week extension till August 3 to finalize its report. Indications are that the panel is unlikely to come out with its report during the Monsoon Session and could seek further extension, making it necessary for the government to re-promulgate the ordinance once again. The ordinance was promulgated for the third time on May 31.
Originally the panel had to submit its report on the first day of the Monsoon session beginning July 21. The panel will have to take the nod of Parliament for the extension when the session begins. The panel has decided to seek a two-week extension in one go now, the sources said.
Out of 672 representations that the committee received, 670 have opposed the amendments being brought by the NDA government in the land bill, particularly dropping the consent clause and social impact survey. So far, 52 representatives have also appeared before the committee.