Recently, the Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare submitted its report to the Parliament on the National Commission for Human Resource for Health Bill, 2011.  The objective of the Bill is to “ensure adequate availability of human resources in the health sector in all states”.  It seeks to set up the National Commission for Human Resources for Health (NCHRH), National Board for Health Education (NBHE), and the National Evaluation and Assessment Council (NEAC) in order to determine and regulate standards of health education in the country.  It separates regulation of the education sector from that of professions such as law, medicine and nursing, and establishes professional councils at the national and state levels to regulate the professions. See here for PRS Bill Summary. The Standing Committee recommended that this Bill be withdrawn and a revised Bill be introduced in Parliament after consulting stakeholders.  It felt that concerns of the professional councils such as the Medical Council of India and the Dental Council of India were not adequately addressed.  Also, it noted that the powers and functions of the NCHRH and the National Commission on Higher Education and Research (to be established under the Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011 to regulate the higher education sector in the country) were overlapping in many areas.  Finally, it also expressed concern over the acute shortage of qualified health workers in the country as well as variations among states and rural and urban areas.  As per the 2001 Census, the estimated density of all health workers (qualified and unqualified) is about 20% less than the World Health Organisation’s norm of 2.5 health workers per 1000 population. See here for PRS Standing Committee Summary. Shortfall of health workers in rural areas Public health care in rural areas is provided through a multi-tier network.  At the lowest level, there are sub health-centres for every population of 5,000 in the plains and 3,000 in hilly areas.  The next level consists of Primary Health Centres (PHCs) for every population of 30,000 in the plains and 20,000 in the hills.  Generally, each PHC caters to a cluster of Gram Panchayats.  PHCs are required to have one medical officer and 14 other staff, including one Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM).  There are Community Health Centres (CHCs) for every population of 1,20,000 in the plains and 80,000 in hilly areas.  These sub health centres, PHCs and CHCs are linked to district hospitals.  As on March 2011, there are 14,8124 sub health centres, 23,887 PHCs and 4809 CHCs in the country.[i]  Sub-Health Centres and Primary Health Centres

  • § Among the states, Chhattisgarh has the highest vacancy of doctors at 71%, followed byWest Bengal(44%),Maharashtra(37%), and Uttar Pradesh (36%). On the other hand, Rajasthan (0.4%), Andhra Pradesh (3%) and Kerala (7%) have the lowest vacancies in PHCs.
  • § Nine states do not have any doctor vacancies at all at the PHC level. These states includeBihar, Jharkhand andPunjab.
  • § Ten states have vacancy in case of ANMs.  These are: Manipur, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh,Gujarat,Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.
  • § The overall vacancy for ANMs in the country is 5% while for doctors it is 24%.

Table 1: State-wise comparison of vacancy in PHCs


Doctors at PHCs

ANM at PHCs and Sub-Centres

State Sanctioned post Vacancy % of vacancy Sanctioned post Vacancy % of vacancy
 Chhattisgarh 1482 1058 71 6394 964 15
 West Bengal 1807 801 44 10,356 NA 0
 Maharashtra 3618 1326 37 21,122 0 0
 Uttar Pradesh 4509 1648 36 25,190 2726 11
 Mizoram 57 20 35 388 0 0
 Madhya Pradesh 1238 424 34 11,904 0 0
 Gujarat 1123 345 31 7248 817 11
 Andaman & Nicobar Isld 40 12 30 214 0 0
 Odisha 725 200 28 7442 0 0
 Tamil Nadu 2326 622 27 9910 136 1
 Himachal Pradesh 582 131 22 2213 528 24
 Uttarakhand 299 65 22 2077 0 0
 Manipur 240 48 20 984 323 33
 Haryana 651 121 19 5420 386 7
 Sikkim 48 9 19 219 0 0
 Meghalaya 127 23 18 667 0 0
 Delhi 22 3 14 43 0 0
 Goa 46 5 11 260 20 8
 Karnataka 2310 221 10 11,180 0 0
 Kerala 1204 82 7 4232 59 1
 Andhra Pradesh 2424 76 3 24,523 2876 12
 Rajasthan 1478 6 0.4 14,348 0 0
 Arunachal Pradesh  NA  NA NA NA NA 0
 Assam  NA  NA NA NA NA 0
 Bihar 2078  0 NA NA NA 0
 Chandigarh 0 0 NA 17 0 0
 Dadra & Nagar Haveli 6 0 NA 40 0 0
 Daman & Diu 3  0 NA 26 0 0
 Jammu & Kashmir 750  0 NA 2282 0 0
 Jharkhand 330  0 NA 4288 0 0
 Lakshadweep 4  0 NA NA NA 0
 Nagaland  NA  NA NA NA NA 0
 Puducherry 37 0 NA 72 0 0
 Punjab 487 0 NA 4044 0 0
 Tripura  NA  NA NA NA NA 0
 India 30,051 7,246 24 1,77,103 8,835 5
Sources: National Rural Health Mission (available here), PRS.Note: The data for all states is as of March 2011 except for some states where data is as of 2010.  For doctors, these states are Bihar, UP, Mizoram and Delhi.  For ANMs, these states are Odisha and Uttar Pradesh.


Community Health Centres

  • § A CHC is required to be manned by four medical specialists (surgeon, physician, gynaecologist and paediatrician) and 21 paramedical and other staff.
  • § As of March 2011, overall there is a 39% vacancy of medical specialists in CHCs.  Out of the sanctioned posts, 56% of surgeons, 47% of gynaecologists, 59% of physicians and 49% of paediatricians were vacant.
  • States such as Chhattisgarh, Manipur and Haryana have a high rate of vacancies at the CHC level.

Table 2: Vacancies in CHCs of medical specialists

  Surgeons Gynaecologists Physicians Paediatricians

% of vacancy

 Andaman & NicobarIsland 100 100 100 100
 Andhra Pradesh 74 0 45 3
 Arunachal Pradesh NA NA NA NA
 Assam NA NA NA NA
 Bihar 41 44 60 38
 Chandigarh 50 40 50 100
 Chhattisgarh 85 85 90 84
 Dadra & Nagar Haveli 0 0 0 0
 Daman & Diu 0 100 0 100
 Delhi 0 0 0 0
 Goa 20 20 67 66
 Gujarat 77 73 0 91
 Haryana 71 80 94 85
 Himachal Pradesh NA NA NA NA
 Jammu & Kashmir 34 34 53 63
 Jharkhand 45 0 81 61
 Karnataka 33 NA NA NA
 Kerala NA NA NA NA
 Lakshadweep 0 0 100 0
 Madhya Pradesh 78 69 76 58
 Maharashtra 21 0 34 0
 Manipur 100 94 94 87
 Meghalaya 50 NA 100 50
 Mizoram NA NA NA NA
 Nagaland NA NA NA NA
 Odisha 44 45 62 41
 Puducherry 0 0 100 NA
 Punjab 16 36 40 48
 Rajasthan 57% 46 49 24
 Sikkim NA NA NA NA
 Tamil Nadu 0 0 0 0
 Tripura NA NA NA NA
 Uttar Pradesh NA NA NA NA
 Uttarakhand 69 63 74 40
 West Bengal 0 57 0 78
 India 56 47 59 49
Sources: National Rural Health Mission (available here), PRS.

[i].  “Rural Healthcare System in India”, National Rural Health Mission (available here).  

On October 18, it was reportein 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.



  • Publication of Rules, Regulations, and Bye-Laws, where public consultation is required under the Act
  • A minimum of 30 days for public feedback
  • Consequently, for publication,
  • Three months, if the number of suggestions is small
  • Six months, if the number of suggestions is large
  • Publication of Rules, Regulations, and Bye-Laws, not requiring public consultation
  • Six months from the date on which the concerned Act came into force
  • Any extension for publication
  • A maximum of three months at a time

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:

  • Statement on reasons for the delay: In 2011, Rajya Sabha Committee recommended that while laying Rules/Regulations before Parliament, the Ministry should also lay a statement explaining the reasons for the delay, if any.
  • Scrutiny of delays by the Cabinet Secretary:  In 2016, the Rajya Sabha Committee recommended that the Cabinet Secretary should continue the practice of calling the Secretaries of concerned Ministries/Departments, to explain the reasons for the delay in framing the subordinate legislation.  Each Ministry should send a quarterly status report to the Cabinet Secretariat.
  • Revisiting guidelines: In 2011, Lok Sabha Committee recommended that the 1986 guidelines should be revisited and all major recommendations of the Committee should be incorporated.  However, as per the Action Taken Report, the government observed that the ministries consider the extant guidelines adequate and these guidelines were re-iterated in 2012.

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.

  • Capacity of Committees on Subordinate Legislation:  Parliamentary Committees on Subordinate Legislation have the responsibility to examine Rules in detail.  In past, they have examined some key rules, regulations, and notifications regarding e-commerceliability of internet-based services, and demonetisation.  However, usually, they are able to examine only a fraction of subordinate legislation in detail.  For more details, please see the PRS discussion paper here.
  • Uniformity of standards:  Countries such as UKUSAAustralia, and Canada have overarching legislation for regulating the framing of subordinate legislation.  These laws provide for the manner of public consultation, timelines, drafting standards, and a common register.  India does not have any similar law.  In India, the detail whether public consultation for subordinate legislation is required or not, is specified in respective Acts.  The General Clauses Act, 1897 also governs certain aspects of the framing of subordinate legislation.  In addition, the Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy, 2014 guides the pre-legislative consultation on subordinate legislation.

See here for our recently published analysis of the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Rules, 2022, notified in September 2022.  Also, check out PRS analysis of: