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country on diverse issues. In spite of the fact that so far only 14 Private Members’ Bills have been enacted in India, Members of Parliament have always remained on the forefront in introducing legislation to influence the government mindset for formulating certain policies for our country. A recent example of such a Private Member’s Bill was that of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2012 (Amendment of Articles 124 and 217) from Mr H.K. Dua, a nominated Member of the Rajya Sabha. He moved the Bill for the purpose of preventing a judge to resign against whom impeachment proceedings were pending in Parliament. When the Bill was discussed in the Rajya Sabha on 7 December 2012 leaders of political parties and the Law Minister participated in the proceedings, and hailed Mr Dua’s initiative to bring forward a legislation which had a far reaching impact, so much so that it resulted in the judiciary discharging its responsibilities. The Law Minister said, “by taking this initiative, he has certainly refocused attention on an extremely important issue about the functioning of the judicial system. He has raised

needed to be debated in Parliament. It was because of this discussion in that the government became cautious not to compromise India’s nuclear policy which evolved through home-grown efforts and in the face of technology denial regimes imposed by developed countries. Dr Sanjay Baru, one of the authorities on public policy commented that nobody had studied Parliament debates on Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreements to understand the thinking of Parliamentarians. His comment is extremely significant in the context of Parliament’s role as an institutional embodiment of the people’s will and as a legislative and deliberative chamber to make laws and discuss Executive policies. In the coalition era, political parties are increasingly demanding discussion of public policies in Parliament. It is heartening that the government is remaining open to such demands of the opposition even though it often claims that all executive decisions cannot be discussed in Parliament.

In 2001 the National Democratic Alliance Government took a decision to disinvest in the Bharat Aluminum Corporation (BALCO), a

“It is a welcome trend in favour of the role of the Parliament for fine tuning public policies.”

through this Bill, larger issues that have a direct bearing on the quality of our constitutional democracy”. The Bill impacted the thinking of leaders of political parties who appreciated his concerns at having introduced legislation for amending the constitution so that judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts facing impeachment proceedings could not simply resign from the post.

Examples of discussion on public policies

When the civil nuclear agreement was signed between India and the United States, there was a demand that such an important government decision

leading public sector enterprise. The opposition parties demanded that the issue be discussed and voted in Parliament. Despite the government in the beginning not willing to do so, eventually it acceded to the demand and as a result the Parliament discussed it on 1 March 2001 under Rule 184 in the Lok Sabha which provided for voting.

During the winter session of Parliament in 2012, there was widespread demand from political parties both of the ruling coalition and the opposition to discuss the decision of the government to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector. Eventually, it was not only

192 | The Parliamentarian | 2013: Issue Three

Above: Parliament House in New Delhi; Right: People partaking in a rally to protest against Foreign Direct Investment in the retail sector. The policy was debated in Parliament following demand from the ruling coalition and the opposition. It later received approval in both House of Parliament.

discussed but also voted upon and the government received the approval of both Houses of Parliament.

Delegated legislation

On many occasions the government formulates programmes and policies by framing rules and regulations under different Acts of Parliament. Under the delegated powers of the legislation these rules may be discussed in Parliament and Members can move notices for annulment of such rules by following prescribed procedure. So even though the decision of the government to allow FDI in retail has been approved by Parliament, Members of Parliament have their right to take up the issue afresh by moving a motion for modification or annulment of modified rules and regulations affecting the main statutes. So far, the delegated power of legislations has not been properly

studied. It is important to study this to understand the role of Parliament in discussing public policies which are often framed by modifying main statutes approved by Parliament.

Department-related parliamentary standing committees

The introduction of department- related parliamentary committees marked the start of a new and dynamic era to scrutinize public policies in India. One example was the role played by the department-related parliamentary standing committee on industry headed by Mr Tiruchi Siva, a Member of Rajya Sabha. When the government published its draft E-waste rules, Mr Siva took a decision to discuss those rules by summoning both the Secretaries of Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ministry of Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSME). Due to

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