Legislative business in Parliament has fallen prey to ad-hocism

| Updated on November 18, 2019 Published on November 18, 2019

This has resulted in laws riddled with loopholes

The Winter Session of Parliament has typically commenced with partisan agendas dictating the discourse. Anxious to bolster its image as efficient administrators guided by fixed ideological concerns, the Government has listed as many as 35 new legislation with the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 being the crowning glory that would alter the definition of “illegal migrant” to facilitate entry of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, etc., from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The Opposition has simultaneously flagged the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and demanded that veteran MP Farooq Abdullah, who has been in detention since August 5, 2019, when Article 370 was abrogated, be allowed to attend the Winter Session.

Such posturing and distrust introduces an element of delinquency in the primary function of crafting laws in Parliament. Take, for instance, a critical legislation such as the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) that came into existence after amending as many as 11 statutes and repealing two other Acts. The Government raced through the complex process of consolidation of laws relating to insolvency resolution of corporate firms, persons and individuals, ensuring its passage in December 2015 and due notification in January 2016. Within three years of its passage, the IBC has undergone four major amendments, two of them through the extraordinary measure of ordinances. Why, for instance, did the inclusion of Section 29A — preventing persons who have contributed to the default of the corporate debtor from gaining control in a Resolution Plan — have to come through an ordinance? The confusion that followed because of the wide ambit of ineligibility could easily have been avoided had Parliament given due consideration and been clear in the framing of the law in the first place. The short debate allowed in the Lok Sabha to pass the amendment brought in through the second ordinance in the Code to treat home-buyers on a par with financial creditors, witnessed an almost unanimous appeal from veteran parliamentarians to ensure clarity in the legislation. “The provisions of this Act had to be amended twice. Even today, it is not perfect. How many times more would this Act have to be amended?” asked former Union Minister M Veerappa Moily. Yet another amendment bill for inclusion of a chapter on Cross Border Insolvency has been listed in this session. Among the other 34 new legislation listed are amendment bills pertaining to Taxation Laws, Companies Act, Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, fresh statutes to provide for establishment of International Financial Services Centres, enact a domestic anti-maritime-piracy legislation et al.

If the Government really means business and, more importantly, wishes to facilitate ease of doing business, the treasury benches have to ensure that fresh legislation is not left dotted with such loopholes as to be subject to wide judicial interpretation or a spate of further amendments. Indeed, ad-hocism owing to petty partisan concerns should not cloud the very raison d’etre for Parliament which is to ensure the relevance, vitality and dynamism of law.

Published on November 18, 2019
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