Farmers’ groups challenge land ordinance in Supreme Court

Let down:Farmers protest against the land acqui-sition Bill in New Delhi.— File Photo: Kamal Narang

Let down:Farmers protest against the land acqui-sition Bill in New Delhi.— File Photo: Kamal Narang  

A fraud has been played on Constitution, says petition

Calling it a “textbook example of blatant abuse” of the President’s power to promulgate ordinances, farmers’ associations on Thursday moved the Supreme Court challenging the re-promulgation of the land acquisition ordinance.

The petition alleges that re-promulgation of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Re-settlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015, on April 3 by first proroguing the Rajya Sabha on March 28 was a “clever device and ruse” adopted by the government to subvert the legislative process of the Rajya Sabha.

“Lack of political will or consensus or the fear of the executive of getting defeated on the floor of the House is not a ground for exercise of power under Article 123 [power of the President to promulgate ordinance during recess of Parliament],” said the petition seeking that the ordinance be declared unconstitutional.

The petition has been filed by senior advocate and former Additional Solicitor-General Indira Jaising for the Delhi Grameen Samaj, the Bharatiya Kisan Union, the Gram Sewa Samiti and the Chogama Vikas Avam based in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

Asking the Supreme Court to call for the entire paper trail leading to the re-promulgation, the petition alleged that a fraud had been played on the Constitution.

‘Ordinance Raj’

Ordinances cannot be a substitute for legislative law-making, more so after the Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha and not by the Rajya Sabha, it said. “This ordinance does not even indicate what is the extraordinary situation necessitating it ... the SC has categorically held that “Ordinance Raj” is impermissible, ” the petition contended. It called the re-promulgation a “colourable exercise of power by the executive.” In the instant case, the Land Bill was passed on March 10, 2015. However, 10 days later, the Houses were adjourned on March 20. The Rajya Sabha was thereafter prorogued on March 28, shortly before the ordinance was re-promulgated on April 3.

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