‘Notification issued without a source of law’

The notification relating to foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, issued by the Centre on September 20, has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

Advocate M. L. Sharma has questioned the notification on the ground that it had been issued without having a source of law and without Parliamentary approval.

Soon after the Union Cabinet decided to allow 100 per cent FDI in multi-brand retailing and aviation as well as disinvestment in four PSUs, a notification had been issued by an executive order, he said.

He said the public interest writ petition raised important questions of law, namely, “whether an order/notification can be issued violating Article 77 of the constitution; whether any law, rule, regulation can be framed effecting existing law without being passed/approved by Parliament; whether a rule/regulation or law which had the potential to damage life and livelihood of citizens of India, is not unconstitutional and ultra vires?”

Quoting figures on the retail sector, the petitioner said, “At present, the domestic retail sector (excluding villages and towns) is about $500 billion annually, which is expected to be $900 billion by 2014. More than 20 crore people are trading on footpath without having fixed shop in vegetable markets across the country. Farmers, small milkmen, fruit producers and others also earn their livelihood through retail trading upon footpath, small shops and upon hand cart across the country.”

He said “the notification has been issued in the name of reform but, in fact, it is a sale of India, citizens of India, their business and future of the country to foreigners.’’

The notification would hit the life and livelihood of more than 35 crore citizens of India “who are surviving through their small retail trade upon footpath, small shops, hand-trolley and even door-to-door,” he said.

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