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Cabinet defers consideration of anti-graft ordinances

The much-anticipated anti-graft ordinances being pushed by Rahul Gandhi were on Friday put off by the Union Cabinet.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2014 19:33 IST
rahul gandhi,anti-graft ordinances,Ajit Seth

The much-anticipated anti-graft ordinances being pushed by Rahul Gandhi were on Friday put off by the Union Cabinet.

The Cabinet which met for nearly two hours decided to postpone the ordinances amid speculation that its special meeting could be held early next week on the issue.

There was, however, no official word on it by the government.

As soon as the Cabinet had taken up the packed agenda for the day, Cabinet secretary Ajit Seth announced that the items relating to the ordinances stand "postponed", sources said.

The sources said ordinances on Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill and Right of Citizens for Time-Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill --- both dealing with corruption --- were on the agenda.

These are among the anti-corruption bills being pushed by Rahul Gandhi to create a "framework" to fight graft. These proposed legislations could not be passed during the extended Winter Session of Parliament due to disturbances.

Along with these, the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, Rights of Persons with Disability Bill, Security Laws (Amendment) Bill and Delhi High Court Act (Amendment) Bill were also on the agenda.

The law ministry had sent notes with all the ordinances on whether the reasons given by various ministries to promulgate the executive orders were acceptable to the Union Cabinet. The reason was that often ordinances have to withstand judicial scrutiny.

As Parliament session came to an end on February 21 without passing these legislations, Rahul launched a blistering attack on the Opposition.

Rahul had said he had talked to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi on taking the ordinance route.

The bills he was seeking to push through included Public Procurement Bill, Citizens Charter Bill, a bill dealing with Bribery of Foreign Officials and Prevention of Corruption Act (Amendment) Bill besides the Whistleblower Bill, which was passed by Parliament.

Congress and the UPA government have been under fire over a slew of corruption scandals involving some of its leaders.

While the issue of corruption and the rising prices of essential commodities have dented the popularity of the UPA, which has been in power since 2004, the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is projected to have a clear edge in opinion polls ahead of the Lok Sabha election due by May.

Sensing the Congress might draw political mileage out of these legislations, the BJP on Wednesday said it will register its protest with President Pranab Mukherjee if such a route is adopted.

"Issuing an ordinance is something which should be done in exceptional cases and between two sessions of Parliament. We (BJP) are against the ordinance route at this point of time and will register our protest with the President of India," BJP President Rajnath Singh today said, addressing ward-level party workers here.

First Published: Feb 28, 2014 19:30 IST