Govt set to defang Sebi, dilute SC/ST ordinance as well

  • Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 03, 2014 02:05 IST

The Narendra Modi government is considering diluting two key ordinances brought by the UPA — one aimed at empowering market regulator Sebi against ponzi schemes and another tightening the law to curb atrocities against SC/STs.

A section of the government feels the sweeping powers given by the ordinance to the Securities and Exchange Board of India, especially in conducting search and seizure operations, can be watered down. There are also murmurs in the NDA that the ordinance was brought mainly to target an industrialist with diversified business interests that have a large presence in Uttar Pradesh.

The SC/ST ordinance, according to some ministers, has several provisions that can be misused.

“There is a need for a re-look at these provisions. There is no doubt the law needs to be strengthened to tackle crimes against SC/STs. But the current form of the ordinance makes it a draconian law,” said a source.

Among other things, the Act criminalises intentionally touching an SC/ST woman in a sexual manner and specifies that a non-SC/ST public servant can be jailed for at least six months if found to be neglecting his duties relating to Dalits or tribals.

These provisions, the sources said, can be misused.

The SC/ST ordinance was promulgated in March while the one on Sebi was brought in early 2013 and re-promulgated thrice — an ordinance has a life of six months after which it has to either be approved by Parliament and made into law or re-promulgated so that it continues to exist.

The proposed move to water down the UPA ordinances comes amid preparations by the Modi administration to amend the previous government’s flagship rural job law (MGNREGA).

On Wednesday, parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu held a meeting to discuss the agenda for the budget session that starts July 7.

He will also call a meeting of leaders of all political parties in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

Naidu told HT the final agenda for the session was yet to be finalised and all ministries have been asked to submit their lists of priority bills. “Apart from the budget process, there are four ordinances pending before the government. I have written to the ministries concerned seeking their opinion on the ordinances.”

Government sources claimed the delay in finalising the legislative agenda was because cautious ministers wanted to review pending legislation and hold inter-ministerial discussions.

“Also, many ministers want to gauge the PM’s priorities,” said a source.

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