In a move to prevent agitations like the one by Anna Hazare, which has taken the country by storm, the government plans to have a framework for mandatory pre-legislation consultations before a Bill is introduced in Parliament.
Sonia Gandhi headed National Advisory Council has formed a working group on mandatory pre-legislative consultations to suggest the way to institutionalise pre-legislative consultations before a Bill is finalised.
Unlike European countries, India does not have a procedure to seek people's view on important legislations or policies.In Europe, a white paper is issued on the broad outlines of the proposed legislation.
Once the feedback is received, the draft legislation is prepared which is then placed in the public domain for comments.
The Bill is sent for Cabinet approval with a detailed note on why certain suggestions were accepted or rejected.
But in India, for some laws certain consultation process is held while others are closely guarded by the government. Rural Development minister Jairam Ramesh is holding consultation on draft land acquisition law but the same did not happen in case of the Lokpal Bill. The Bill became public only after it was introduced in Parliament.
But, Team Anna adopted a totally different strategy of the Jan Lokpal Bill after holding extensive consultations and creating awareness about its provisions. “Our Bill is of people whereas the government's version is a bureaucratic draft,” said Arvind Kejriwal of Team Anna.
The discretion at the hands of the government to seek public views may end, according to a National Advisory Council member.
“The framework is at the discussion stage…we are looking a roadmap which will work,” a NAC member said.
The broad discussions in the working group headed by NAC member Aruna Roy is on ensuring that the government gives specific replies to people's comments on a draft legislation.