The Ordinance to amend the Enemy Property Act (Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants Act) of 1971 promulgated by the President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday night is the 22nd since the Prime Minister Narendra Modi took reigns of office on May 26, 2014.
During the five-year period of the UPA-II headed by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, 25 ordinances were promulgated. The Manmohan Singh government during UPA-I (2004-09) issued 36 ordinances and UPA II (2009-14), with better numbers, issued 25. It averaged to six times a year in its 10-year term.
Ordinances are issued by the President on recommendation by the government of the day invoking Article 123 of The Constitution. It gives power to President to promulgate Ordinances during recess of Parliament if at any time, except when both Houses of Parliament are in session, the President is satisfied that circumstances exist which render it necessary for him to take immediate action, he may promulgate such Ordinance as the circumstances appear to him to require.
An Ordinance promulgated under this article shall have the same force and effect as an Act of Parliament, but every such Ordinance and shall be laid before both House of Parliament and shall cease to operate at the expiration of six weeks from the reassemble of Parliament, or, if before the expiration of that period resolutions disapproving it are passed by both Houses, upon the passing of the second of those resolutions.
It may be withdrawn at any time by the President Explanation Where the Houses of Parliament are summoned to reassemble on different dates, the period of six weeks shall be reckoned from the later of those dates for the purposes of this clause.
The Modi government began its innings with recommendation for two ordinances at the very first Cabinet meeting. After taking charge in May 2014, it recommended an ordinance to amend the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act to facilitate Nripendra Mishra take over as Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, and the other to amend the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act for transfer of a cluster of villages for the Polavaram project.
Both the ordinances were issued on May 28, 2014. Besides these two, the government had issued a total of five ordinances in 2014, including the one to amend the Land Acquisition law of 2013. The ordinance envisaged procuring land for industrial corridors, rural infrastructure, defence and housing.
On January 20 the President Pranab Mukherjee while answering questions during an address to Central varsities and research institutions in New Delhi had remarked, “Ordinance route cannot be taken, should not be taken for normal legislation”.
A Lok Sabha publication titled Presidential Ordinances 1950-2014 issued in early 2015 shows that after the Constitution came into force and till December 2014, the President has promulgated 679 Ordinances.
These are in the nature of interim or temporary legislation and their continuance is subject to parliamentary approval. Ordinances remain valid for no more than six weeks from the date the Parliament is convened unless approved by it.
Article 123 is meant for mitigating unusual circumstances where immediate action is inevitable when the extant provisions of law are inadequate. The President should not incorporate any matter in an ordinance which is violating the constitution or needs amendment to the constitution.
The ordinance to amend the The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act passed by the previous UPA government was promulgated and re-promulgated on three occasions following which the government gave up the ordinance route and went for a statutory order.
In 2015, a total of 10 ordinances were promulgated, including the one to amend land law which was issued twice on April 3 and May 30 respectively.
The other ordinances issued in 2015 included the one to amend the Citizenship Act to merge Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) schemes, by which PIOs will also get life-long Indian visa.
Another ordinance was aimed at amending the Motor Vehicles Act to bring e-carts and e-rickshaws under the ambit of the law.
This year, the ordinance to amend the Enemy Property Act was promulgated twice. It sought to amend a 48-year-old law to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after the wars.
In a rare development, the Budget session of Parliament was prorogued on March 29 to enable the government to issue an Ordinance to authorise expenditure beyond April 1 in the Centrally-ruled Uttarakhand in view of the political crisis in the state.
A bill to replace the Uttarakhand Appropriation Ordinance was later passed by Parliament.
Of these, 456 were issued in about 50 years of rule and by six Prime Ministers of the Congress. Record books show that India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of the Congress cleared about 70 ordinances during the period from 1952 to 1964. Indira Gandhi issued 77 Ordinances during 1971-77, at the rate of almost three ordinances every two months.
Mrs. Gandhi’s son Rajiv Gandhi issued 35 ordinances in five years as PM. The minority Congress government of P.V. Narasimha Rao issued 77 ordinances during its five year term. The left-backed United Front government-which was supported by the Congress from the outside-passed only 61 Bills during its 1996-98 term under two PMs, H.D. Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral, but issued a record 77 ordinances at a strike rate of more than 3 per month.
The NDA government headed by the BJP's Atal Bihari Vajpayee issued 58 ordinances between 1998 and 2004, at a strike rate of almost nine per year.