Aruna Roy wants citizens` role in framing laws on crime against women

Against the backdrop of suggestions being made to the Justice Verma committee on crime against women, activist Aruna Roy pitched for the involvement of citizens in framing laws.

Updated: Jan 28, 2013, 21:14 PM IST

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of thousands of suggestions being made to the Justice Verma committee on crime against women, activist Aruna Roy on Monday pitched for the involvement of citizens in framing laws.

In a letter to National Advisory Council (NAC) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, she slammed the DoPT for playing spoilsport in establishing a mechanism of pre-legislative process.

Roy said such a system would not cost any money and help build citizens` involvement and strengthening the democratic system.

"In a participatory democracy, when citizens are demanding their voice be heard, to not create an institutionalised platform for pre-legislative consultation, is unwise and self defeating. If the NAC is not considered the right platform for such a discussion, it should be taken up by some other agency immediately," Roy, who is also a part of the Council, said.

At the same time, she was critical of the approach of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) in not allowing a pre-legislative mechanism to take shape.

"Unfortunately, even a set of preliminary recommendations on the pre-legislative process taken up by the NAC have reached a dead end because of the resolve of the DoPT that it will `consult 85 Departments` to elicit their opinion.

"Section 4 of the RTI Act actually mandates some of these processes. Unfortunately, the DoPT has inordinately delayed notifying and adopting the report of a task force it set up on implementation of Section 4 of the RTI Act," she said.

Roy noted that a Joint Secretary of the DoPT had assured NAC that it would be notified in a few days, but the assurance is still to materialise.

She said in the anti-corruption protests, as well as the protests following the Delhi gang-rape, ordinary citizens have expressed a strong desire to suggest institutional reform, and participate in the process of law making.

In both instances, many of the suggestions have revealed a high degree of expertise, as well as common sense and wisdom, she said.

"Citizens and citizens groups have asked for nothing in return -- neither renumeration, nor recognition for their contribution. They have only asked that they be seriously heard, and that sensible suggestions be acted upon...In all cases of pre-legislative consultation, the recommendations will always go to the executive, and to the legislature without encroaching on the domain of either," she said.

In another letter to Gandhi, Roy said seven years after the passage of the MNREGA Act, the basics of the scheme are still to be effectively institutionalised.

"Unfortunately, a combination of bureaucratic and political hostility continues to undermine implementation of the programme. The absence of a proper monitoring and support establishment at the centre has allowed the programme to lose focus in large parts of the country," she said.

She said MNREGA has provided at least a ray of hope for the rural poor in their working lives. Even in places where implementation is weak, there is an entitlement that they can fight for.