The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2011 was passed by Lok Sabha yesterday. The Bill will be discussed next by Rajya Sabha. Unlike the Lok Sabha, where the UPA government holds a majority in the House, the composition is different in Rajya Sabha. As on 28th December 2011, the total strength of Rajya Sabha is 243 members . The UPA has a combined strength of 95 members in the House, well below the 50% mark. (Of course, there will be some absent members which will change the arithmetic a bit.) The passage of the Bill thus depends on the stand taken by other political parties and their numbers in the House. Here's how the figures stack up:
|Indian National Congress (INC)||71|
|Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)||7|
|Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)||7|
|All India Trinamool Congress (AITC)||6|
|Jammu and Kashmir National Conference||2|
|Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF)||1|
|Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD)||1|
|Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)||51|
|Janata Dal (United)||8|
|Shiv Sena (SS)||4|
|Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)||3|
|Communist Party of India (Marxist)||13|
|Communist Party of India (CPI)||5|
|All India Forward Bloc (AIFB)||1|
|Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP )||18|
|Biju Janata Dal (BJD )||6|
|All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK )||5|
|Samajwadi Party (SP )||5|
|Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD )||4|
|Asom Gana Parishad (AGP )||2|
|Bodoland People's Front (BPF )||1|
|Indian National Lok Dal (INLD )||1|
|Lok Janasakti Party (LJP )||1|
|Mizo National Front (MNF )||1|
|Nagaland People's Front (NPF )||1|
|Telugu Desam Party (TDP )||4|
|Independent and others||6|
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: