Before the start of Parliament's winter session, former judges of Supreme Court has questioned the efficacy of three government bills on new regulatory authority for bio-technology, unfair practices in higher education and constitution of education tribunals.
The winter session has hectic agenda for MPs as there are over 30 bill lists for introduction or consideration including six education bills and the Bio-technology Regulatory Authority Bill.
The former judges of Supreme Court S P Jeevan Reddy, Kuldeep Singh and M H Kania in a similar statement have expressed serious concern saying the ministry mandated to promote bio-technology was introducing the bill. They also said that the regulatory framework should have experts from other related ministries such as environment, agriculture, health and rural development.
“The primary mandate of any biotechnology bill must be to ensure safety to consumers, farmers and the environment and not to facilitate quick clearances,” the judges said.
They also found the bill lacking in ensuring that citizens have a right to reject a Genetically Modified food, gram sabha refusal to all sowing of GM food crops and ensure that there is no contamination of environment because of GM crops.
“The penalties for transgressing of the rights of consumers or farmers to be GM free and for any environmental damage must be of a deterrent nature and quickly enforceable,” they said.
In another set of view, former chief justices of India, A S Anand, Madan Mohan Punchhi and K N Singh had claimed that the government does not have legal competence to set regulatory mechanisms for universities as it was a domain of the state legislative bodies.
Their view was sought by Association of Self Financing Universities on HRD ministry’s Education Tribunal Bill and Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Technical, Medical and Universities Bill. These bills aim at setting up regulatory mechanisms at centre and state levels to address issues of concern in higher education including capitation fee, inadequate teaching facility and problem related to teachers.
The views of the former chief justices are based on entries in the Constitution related to matters on incorporation, regulation and winding up of the universities.
They said it was exclusively a state subject. The government, however, differ saying that there already is the University Grants Commission set up under a Central Law to regulate universities.
In addition to contrary legal views, Members of Parliament cutting across party lines have also opposed the proposed laws on different grounds.