Rajya Sabha to be prorogued for re-issue of land ordinance

New Delhi: Ending suspense, Government today decided to prorogue the current session of Rajya Sabha so that it can re-issue the controversial land ordinance even as the Opposition mounted a fresh attack on the measure.

The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh met here today and decided to recommend prorogation of the Upper House with immediate effect.

Under the Constitution at least one of the Houses has to be prorogued for Government to issue an ordinance.

Parliament is currently on a month-long recess after the Budget session started on February 23.

The land acquisition ordinance, which was promulgated in December last, will lapse on April 5 because it could not be converted into a law by Parliament.

The Ordinance had cleared the Lok Sabha hurdled but faced stiff opposition in Rajya Sabha, where the government lacks numbers. The bill to replace the Ordinance was passed in Lok Sabha with nine amendments and the government indicated its willingness to further amend it but a united Opposition did not allow the government to take up the matter in Rajya Sabha.

“The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs today met and has decided to recommend prorogation of the Rajya Sabha with immediate effect,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters after the CCPA meet.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi besides Naidu were there.

Asked when will the government bring the ordinance on land again as the existing ordinance will lapse on April 5, the minister said,”you will come to know when the decision is taken.”

The government’s decision has come on a day when Congress President Sonia wrote a strongly-worded letter to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari rejecting his defence of the land ordinance and accused the government of “bending backwards” to favour industrialists at the cost of farmers in this matter.

Janata parivar leaders including Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav met today to chalk out joint protests against the controversial land bill.

There are indications that the new ordinance may carry the nine official amendments moved by the government during passage of the Bill in Lok Sabha, which seeks to replace the executive order.

A meeting of the Union Cabinet on Wednesday had given “post facto approval” to those amendments.

There is buzz in government circles that the ruling dispensation may accept some tweaking of the consent clause, which was done away with in the original Ordinance.

It may agree to reintroduce the provision of taking farmers’ consent for acquiring land. The earlier 80 per cent consent requirement can be reduced to 51 per cent.

Similarly, instead of the earlier social impact assessment (SIA), the government may involve expert groups to examine the land deals to find out whether excess land has been acquired for a project and whether it has affected the original inhabitants.

Sources in the government said that there have been instances in past when ordinances were issued on pending bills even when Parliament was in session.

The sources said that since 1996, 15 Ordinances were re-promulgated Of these 7 were re-promulgated once and the other twice.