Monday, August 26, 2013

Launching Food Security programme amounts to an affront to Parliament & Constitution

Launching Food Security programme amounts to an affront to Parliament & Constitution

On August 7, UPA government withdrew in Parliament the Food Security Ordinance promulgated on July 5 and introduced the Food Security Bill to replace the same.

Till August 26 the two Houses of Parliament had not been able to find time to give a consideration to the Bill and finally put their seal of approval. As things stand, nobody is sure whether the Bill, in its present form, will formally get Parliament's approval.

Certain political parties and groups have vented out their intention to introduce certain amendments to the Congress-led UPA's Bill. As the UPA does not enjoy a clear-cut majority to get the Bill through in its present form, it has to adopt a policy of give-and-take. In all probability, after the Parliament's approval the Bill may not exactly be the same as introduced on August 7. The Bill will become a law only the moment it gets the accent of the President of India after the same has been passed by both the Houses of Parliament.

In other words, neither the Food Security Ordinance promulgated on July 5 already withdrawn in Parliament nor the Food Security Bill introduced in Parliament on August 7 have the stamp of approval of Parliament and, therefore, are not laws which can be legally enforced by any government.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the Food Security Bill has electoral and political overtones and designs. Proposed to be got through at the fag end of the present tenure of Parliament and Congress-led UPA government, Congress had thought that the Bill will overcome all its hurdles to become a law and could easily be launched on former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's birthday to draw electoral mileage. For one reason or the other, this plan could not fructify as anticipated. Yet, the Congress did go ahead with launching its food security programme in terms of the provisions in the Bill on August 20 in the five Congress-ruled States of Delhi, Himachal and Haryana in the north and Kerala and Karnataka in the south. It has given ample indication of its intentions to draw electoral mileage in the coming State assembly and Parliament elections in 2014.

As per provisions of the Constitution, no government can utilize public funds without the approval of Parliament. That is why when elections are announced and a regular budget cannot be presented, the Parliament approves a vote on account authorizing the government to meet the day-to-day financial requirements in terms of pay of the establishment and routine expenditure on the ongoing services for a period of two or four months. The Food Security Bill proposes an annual subsidy of `1,24,724 crore for the year 2013-2014. Parliament has not sanctioned this amount so far.

Further, as a part of its media blitzkrieg Congress has also started claiming that "HUNGER WILL BE HISTORY".

Whatever may be the Congress party's electoral compulsions, the fact remains that by hurriedly implementing food security programme in terms of the Food Security Bill tabled by the Government on August 7 in Parliament it has only taken Parliament for granted which amounts to be an affront to the word and spirit of the Constitution.                                                                                           ***

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