Time-bound implementation of government services or penalty for officials in case of delay, protection to whistleblowers or fast adjudication of disputes in higher education — these rights may just remain elusive despite the government’s assurances.
As logjam continues in Parliament, 19 bills for several key measures introduced in the Lower House during the tenure of UPA 2, may lapse with the end of the current Lok Sabha.
According to the rules, bills introduced in Lok Sabha will expire once the House finishes its term. Bills of Rajya Sabha, however, have no such expiry date as the Upper House has no fixed term.
In the fourteenth or the last Lok Sabha (2004-2009), 39 bills had lapsed. UPA 2 government had re-introduced many of them like the Companies Bill. The present regime, of course, has the choice to bring ordinance but that short-cut route has faced opposition from within the ruling coalition on several occasions.
This time, the numbers may be less but the bills facing expiry are of major significance. The list contains the Direct Tax Code Bill which aims to usher in major tax reforms and anti-graft legislation like the protection of whistleblowers bill, The Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials Bill and The Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services Bill.
UPA insiders are not banking much on the last session (for passing the vote on accounts) in February to pass these bills due to paucity of time and the aggressive stance of the Opposition.
The expiry of such bills may also dampen the Congress’ pitch of providing legal rights for entitlements. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has often hailed empowerment through legal rights as the hallmark of the UPA regime.
Sources added that the UPA is keen to pass at least the Lokpal bill — the most-hyped anti-corruption measure — before the 15th Lok Sabha ends. This bill too was introduced in Lok Sabha and failure to pass it will force the next government to start from the scratch.