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Use ordinance only in immediate need: President Pranab Mukherjee

PTI | Last Updated: Friday, December 6, 2013 - 15:22

Kolkata: Expressing concern over growing tendency of some states to enact controversial legislations through ordinance route, President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday said the instruments should be normally promulgated only in the event of immediate need.

"Some states, however, appear to be pushing through certain controversial legislations through ordinances. Such ordinances do not have the approval of the House and are not debated or discussed properly by legislators. Such ordinances should normally die a natural death if the Assembly fails to ratify them," he said.

Mukherjee was addressing the Legislative Assembly here on the occasion of valedictory ceremony of its Platinum Jubilee celebrations (1937-2012).

Speaking in Bengali, the President said that with the heightened complexity of administration, legislation must be preceded by adequate discussion and scrutiny. If not, it will fail to deliver the desired results or meet its objectives.

Mukherjee also cautioned against reduction in the number of sittings in Parliament and the state Assembly.

"It is unfortunate that the time devoted by legislators towards legislation has been gradually declining across the country. To illustrate, the first Lok Sabha from 1952-57 had 677 sittings in which 319 bills were passed. In comparison, the 14th Lok Sabha from 2004-09 had only 332 sittings and passed just 247 bills," he said.

Citing the example of state Assembly, he said the first West Bengal Legislative Assembly from 1952-57 sat for 326 days whereas the 14th Legislative Assembly from 2006-11 sat for only 231 days.

"The number of sittings of the current Legislative Assembly in 2011 was 33 days and in 2012 it was 41 days. The Presiding Officers Conferences have time and again reiterated the need for holding a minimum of 100 days of sittings every year," he said.

The President said there is need for collective thinking by political parties and leaders on how to ensure smooth running of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies and whether some of the existing rules need to be amended for the purpose.

"We should also examine whether our Committees can consider post-approval scrutiny of budgetary allocations made to various Ministries," he said.

Mukherjee urged legislators to ensure that the content and the quality of debates are of the highest order.

"As members of different political parties, individual legislators would be guided by the policies of their respective parties. Competitive politics should not, however, result in slowing down the progress of the state or enhancing the suffering of its people," he said.

The President asked legislators to forge consensus on issues of development and public welfare which transcend political barriers.

Lauding the initiatives taken by West Bengal Assembly in the past, the President said it has advanced the cause of freedom and promoted prosperity among people of the state, but there is no room for complacency.

"You must at all times be attentive to the rising expectations of the people. It must be always kept in mind that people are our masters and each one of us is here because we solicited their votes and received their endorsement," he said.

The President said members of this Assembly must meet the challenges which confront the people of West Bengal head on, with unity, determination and long term vision.

First Published: Friday, December 6, 2013 - 15:22
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