The unlawful Code on Social Security, 2020: Certain Questions of Law!

The Code on Social Security, 2020 which was presented as the Bill No. 121 of 2020 in the Parliament on 19.09.2020 by the central bureaucrats and got passed by the two Houses on 22.09.2020 and 23.09.2020 was a record of sorts exemplifying the capability of the bureaucrats to bend the Parliament to their will. The tricks played by the British bureaucrats to use the politicians in power, as shown in the legendary BBC serial ‘Yes, Minister!’, pales, simply, into oblivion when one sees the audacious capability of the Indian bureaucrats who have mastered the art of deceiving the Parliamentarians and diverting their attention to get any law passed as the bureaucrats pleased.

The law-making-process adopted by the central bureaucrats in the making of the Code on Social Security, 2020 poses the following Questions of Law:

a. whether a law can be enacted with provision to reduce or annul the existing benefits payable to the working class under the ESI Act, which amounts to denial of the recognized fundamental human rights, especially when the benefits had been paid for decades from the funds contributed only by the employers and employees and not by the Central Government with the financial position of the ESI Corporation still remaining stable and commendable;

b. whether a law can be enacted without placing before the nation in general and the Parliamentarians in particular the fact whether the Respondents had estimated and assessed, on record, the impact of the proposed legislation on fundamental rights, lives and livelihoods of the affected people, the working population in this case, as mandated in Para 2 of the Decision of the COS communicated in the D.O. letter  No. 11 (35)/ 2013-L. 1 dated 05.02.2014;

c. whether a law can be enacted without following the ‘due process of law’ codified in the Pre-Legislative Consultative Policy evolved by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and publicized on 05.02.2014.

d. whether a law can be made without incorporating the suggestions given by the PSCL but making false statement to the Parliament that the fresh Bill has been proposed after incorporating the valuable suggestions of the PSCL;

e. whether a law can be made without following the due process of law, codified in Para 9.11.7 of the Manual of Parliamentary Procedure of the Government of India, and without making changes in the Bill scrutinised by the PSCL, through amendment motions;

f. whether the Secretaries of the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Law & Justice and the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs do have the authority to pilot the Bill No. 121 of 2020 as a ‘fresh Bill’ containing numerous modifications made by them on their own, as per their own whims and fancies, without the knowledge of the PSCL, without any suggestion by the PSCL and after the report had been given by the PSCL;

g. whether the abovementioned three officers can place a ‘fresh Bill’ , the Bill No. 121 of 2020, before the Parliament on 19.09.2020 with numerous new modifications and expect the Parliamentarians to go through those contents and find out for themselves what those modifications were, especially when the Parliament session had, already, been scheduled to be a very short one; and

h. whether the Secretary, Ministry of Labour and the Secretary, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, can deviate from the established procedure of legislative drafting and place as Bill a bland document which does not specifically show and invite the attention of the Parliamentarians to the specific modifications proposed to be made, especially when the Bill is not for enacting a new law in the field but only meant for amending, amalgamating and consolidating the existing laws.

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