The Budget session 2013 commenced with the President, Pranab Mukherjee, addressing Parliament on February 21, 2013. The address is a statement of the policy of the government. Yesterday a Motion of Thanks was moved in the Lok Sabha and a detailed discussion took place on the President’s address. (The significance of the President’s speech has been discussed in an article published in the Indian Express.) Below are some legislative and policy items from the agenda of the central government outlined in the speech.
Legislative and policyagenda outlined in President’s addresses between 2009-2012 and their status
Legislations mentioned in the President’s Address between 2009-12
|To be introduced|
|Goods and Services Tax||Constitutional Amendment Bill introduced|
|The National Food Security Bill||Introduced|
|Amend the Land Acquisition Act and enact the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill||Introduced|
|Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal) Bill||Passed|
|The Whistleblower Bill||Pending|
|The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill||Pending|
|The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill||Pending|
|A model Public Services Law (to cover officials providing important social services and commits them to their duties)||Two bills introduced: the Electronic Services Delivery Bill and the Citizen’s Charter Bill|
|The Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill||Passed|
|The National Council for Higher Education Bill||Introduced|
|Foreign Educational Institutions Bill||Introduced|
|Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill||Passed|
|The Women’s Reservation Bill||Pending|
|The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill||Introduced|
|The Public Procurement Bill||Introduced|
|The General Anti-Avoidance Rules||Scheduled for 2016|
|Amend of RTI Act (to provide for disclosure by government in all non-strategic areas)||To be introduced|
Policy items mentioned in the President’s Addresses between 2009-2012
|National Mission for Female Literacy – all women to be literate by 2013-14||National Literacy Mission recast in September 2009 to focus on female literacy; as per 2011 census the female literacy rate in India is 65.46%|
|Disposal of remaining claims in 2010 under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers Act||As on February 28, 2010, 27.16 lakh claims had been filed, 7.59 lakh titles had been distributed and 36,000 titles were ready for distribution; as on July 31, 2012, the number of claims filed for the recognition of forest rights and titles distributed are 32.28 lakh and 12.68 lakh respectively|
|Introduction of Minimum Support Price (MSP) for Minor Forest Produce (MFP) being considered||Based on the recommendations of the Committee constituted by Ministry of Panchayati Raj to look into aspects of MSP, Value addition and marketing of MFP in Fifth Schedule Areas, a Central Sector Scheme of MSP for MFP has been contemplated|
|Voting rights for Indian citizens living abroad||Bill passed; NRIs can vote at the place of residence mentioned in their passport|
|12th Plan target growth 9% with 4% growth for the agricultural sector||GDP grew by 5.4% and the agriculture sector by 1.8% in the first half of the current fiscal year (2012-13)|
|Establish national investment and manufacturing zones to promote growth in manufacturing||Under the National Manufacturing Policy, 12 National Investment and Manufacturing Zones are notified, 8 of them along the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor and 4 others at Nagpur, Tumkur, Chittor and Medak|
|Strengthening public accountability of flagship programmes by the creation of an Independent Evaluation Office.||Government has approved setting up of an Independent Evaluation Office and the Governing Board will be chaired by Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission|
|Unique Identity Card scheme to be implemented by 2011-12||Bill to give statutory status pending in Parliament; enrollment until February 2013 is approximately 28 crore|
|Establishment of National Counter-Terrorism Centre||Proposed launch of NCTC in March 2011 on hold as consultation with states is on; meeting held by the union government with the Chief Ministers of all the States in May 2012|
|Conversion of analog cable TV system to digital by December 2014||Government has implemented the first phase of digitization in Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai; by March 31, 2013, 38 cities with a population of more than one million will be covered|
|A roadmap for judicial reform to be outlined by the end of 2009 and implemented in a time-bound manner||Vision statement formulated in 2009 outlining road map for improving justice delivery and legal reforms and steps to reduce pendency in Courts; setting up of a National Mission for the Delivery of Justice and Legal Reforms to improve court administration and reduce pendency was approved in June 2011|
*Introduced means introduced in one House; Pending means passed by one House and pending in the other House; Passed means passed by both Houses of Parliament.
 “Major Recommendations of Expert Committee on GAAR Accepted”, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, January 14, 2013.
 Lok Sabha, Starred Question No. 175, December 5, 2012, Ministry of Human Resource Development.
 Lok Sabha, Unstarred Question No. 2672, March 12, 2010, Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
 Lok Sabha, Starred Question No. 108, August 17, 2012, Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
 “PM approves Constitution of National Council for Senior Citizens”, Press Information Bureau, February 1, 2012, Prime Minister’s Office.
On October 18, it was reported in the news that the central government has been given more time for framing rules under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. The President had given assent to this Act in December 2019 and the Act came into force in January 2020. Similarly, about two years have passed since the new labour codes were passed by Parliament, and the final Rules are yet to be published. This raises the question how long the government can take to frame Rules and what is the procedure guiding this. In this blog, we discuss the same.
Under the Constitution, the Legislature has the power to make laws and the Executive is responsible for implementing them. Often, the Legislature enacts a law covering the general principles and policies, and delegates the power to the Executive for specifying certain details for the implementation of a law. For example, the Citizenship Amendment Act provides who will be eligible for citizenship. The certificate of registration or naturalization to a person will be issued, subject to conditions, restrictions, and manner as may be prescribed by the central government through Rules. Delay in framing Rules results in delay in implementing the law, since the necessary details are not available. For example, new labour codes provide a social security scheme for gig economy workers such as Swiggy and Zomato delivery persons and Uber and Ola drivers. These benefits as per these Codes are yet to be rolled out as the Rules are yet to be notified.
Timelines and checks and balances for adherence
Each House of Parliament has a Committee of Members to examine Rules, Regulations, and government orders in detail called the Committee on Subordinate Legislation. Over the years, the recommendations of these Committees have shaped the evolution of the procedure and timelines for framing subordinate legislation. These are reflected in the Manual of Parliamentary Procedures issued by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, which provides detailed guidelines.
Ordinarily, Rules, Regulations, and bye-laws are to be framed within six months from the date on which the concerned Act came into force. Post that, the concerned Ministry is required to seek an extension from the Parliamentary Committees on Subordinate Legislation. The reason for the extension needs to be stated. Such extensions may be granted for a maximum period of three months at a time. For example, in case of Rules under the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019, at an earlier instance, an extension was granted on account of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To ensure monitoring, every Ministry is required to prepare a quarterly report on the status of subordinate legislation not framed and share it with the Ministry of Law and Justice. These reports are not available in the public domain.
Recommendations to address delays
Over the years, the Subordinate Legislation Committees in both Houses have observed multiple instances of non-adherence to the above timelines by various Ministries. To address this, they have made the following key recommendations:
Are all Rules under an Act required to be framed?
Usually, the expressions used in an Act are “The Central Government may, by notification, make rules for carrying out the provisions of this Act.”, or “as may be prescribed”. Hence, it may appear that the laws aim to enable rule-making instead of mandate rule-making. However, certain provisions of an Act cannot be brought into force if the required details have not been prescribed under the Rules. This makes the implementation of the Act consequent to the publication of respective Rules. For example, the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 enables the police and certain other persons to collect identity-related information about certain persons. It provides that the manner of collection of such information may be specified by the central government. Unless the manner is prescribed, such collection cannot take place.
That said, some other rule-making powers may be enabling in nature and subject to discretion by the concerned Ministry. In 2016, Rajya Sabha Committee on Subordinate Legislation examined the status of Rules and Regulations to be framed under the Energy Conservation Act, 2001. It observed that the Ministry of Power had held that two Rules and three Regulations under this Act were not necessary. The Ministry of Law and Justice had opined that those deemed not necessary were enabling provisions meant for unforeseen circumstances. The Rajya Sabha Committee (2016) had recommended that where the Ministry does not feel the need for framing subordinate legislation, the Minister should table a statement in Parliament, stating reasons for such a conclusion.
Some key issues related to subordinate legislation
The Legislature delegates the power to specify details for the implementation of a law to the Executive through powers for framing subordinate legislation. Hence, it is important to ensure these are well-scrutinised so that they are within the limits envisaged in the law.
See here for our recently published analysis of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Rules, 2022, notified in September 2022. Also, check out PRS analysis of: