Tag Archives: code on social security

Innocent MPs Vs. Wily bureaucrats – Episode 3

Excerpts from the letter sent to the authorities on the unlawful and unwarranted inclusion of the phrase “Nursing and Para-medical” and the word “Gazetted” in Clause 24 (8) of the Code on Social Security, 2019 (Bill No. 375 of 2019) without any explanation for it anywhere in the Bill.

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2. I submit that although the aforesaid Clause 24 (8) has been modelled on the existing Sec. 17 (3) of the Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, the inclusion of (1) the phrase “Nursing and Para-medical” and (2) the word “Gazetted” therein is unwarranted either by operation of any law or because of any practical problem which could arise in the enforcement of the existing law. The simple fact is that this proposition   under Clause 24 (8) is purely unwarranted and has not been made keeping public interest in view.  There had been no in-depth study for making such a modification in the existing procedure permitted in the  ESI Act. The proposition made, now,  through the Clause 24 (8) of the Code on Social Security is arbitrary and hence unlawul.

3. The original ESI Act did not exempt even the medical posts. All appointments to posts corresponding to Class I and Class II posts under the Central Government were required to be made only in consultation with the Union Public Service Commission. The then Sec. 17 (3), i.e., the provision that was in force upto 26.01.1985, read as under:

“Every appointment to posts corresponding to Class I and Class II posts under the Central Government shall be made in consultation with the Union Public Service Commission”

4. As the classification of the posts based on Class was changed as a matter of policy by the Central Government, the subsequent amendment of 1984 reflected that policy decision and the amended provision which came into effect from 27.01.1985 read as under:

“Every appointment to posts corresponding to group A and group B posts under the Central Government shall be made in consultation with the Union Public Service Commission”.

5. The provisions of Sec. 17 (3) of the ESI Act, as quoted supra, were in accordance with the Art. 320 (3) (a) of the Constitution of India read with the Proviso thereto and the provisions in the UPSC (EFC) Regulations, 1958 (As amended).

Unwarranted amendment in 1989 and later regrets:

6. It was only in the year 1988 that a very big lobby that had been canvassing for a long time for exempting the medical posts from the purview of the UPSC, succeeded in its venture, for reasons which were specious. The UPSC had also accepted the proposal for it. The resultant amendment of 1989 saw the said Sec. 17 (3) of the ESI Act modified as under:

“Every appointment to posts (other than medical posts) corresponding to group A and group B posts under the Central Government shall be made in consultation with the Union Public Service Commission”.

It was later found that the reasons recorded earlier for amending the Sec. 17 (3) thus, to exempt the medical posts from the purview of the UPSC, were improper and wrong and the amendment unnecessary. The then Director General regretted later the amendment of 1989. There had been various unwarranted pressure on the honest Director Generals thereafter.

Unwarranted amendment in 2009 and later regrets:

7. Similar misadventure was there, again, twenty years later, in 2009. That was about the establishment and running of medical colleges by the ESI Corporation. And a Bill (Bill No 66-C of 2009) was tabled on the Lok Sabha to amend, inter alia, Sec. 59-B in the ESI Act to pave way for establishing such medical colleges by the ESI Corporation. A strong lobby, had been canvassing from the year 2007 onwards, through the Standing Committee and the ESI Corporation, for constructing large number of medical colleges. But after frittering away thousands of crores of the fund of the organisation, the same bodies recorded their regret, in the year 2015, and confessed that the ESI Corporation did not have core competency and that the objective of Sec. 59-B was unlikely to be met. The Minutes of the meeting of the Corporation on 05.01.2015 would testify to this fact. The ESIC was gifting away, subsequently, the mammoth buildings constructed at a huge cost to State Governments.

8. Taking wrong decisions first, making herculean efforts to amend the Act by informing, misinforming and disinforming the Parliament, and then regretting the decision after realising the wrongs committed earlier did not remain a one-time phenomenon. It has become a recurring feature as could be seen from the contents of the present Bill No. 375 of 2019 in the Lok Sabha.

Unwarranted meddling, again, in 2019:

9.  Now, ten years later, in 2019, another attempt has been made to yield to another lobby. The proposition for the inclusion of the phrase “Nursing and Para-medical” and the word “Gazetted” therein has no legitimate justification at all. It is the indicator of yielding to such a lobby. And the regrets will be coming later. This is not only in violations of the provisions in the UPSC (EFC) Regulations, 1958 (as amended up to 07.10.2009) but also not necessary, in public interest.

10. I, therefore, submit that it is only right and proper to take action at least at this stage to prevent such a defective Clause from becoming law by deleting the said word and phrase from the proposed Clause 24 (8) of the Code on Social Security, 2019,  and, consequently,  take  action to prepare the said Clause identically on the lines of the existing Sec. 17 (3) of the ESI Act, 1948.

11. It is a fact that the Bill No. 375 of 2019 does not explain how and why the phrase “Nursing and Para-medical” and the word “Gazetted” have been added all of a sudden in Clause 24 (8) of the Code on Social Security, 2019 without explaining the need for it, either in the ‘Statement of Objects and  Reasons’ or even in the ‘Note on Clauses’.

12. The ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ is totally silent on this issue. The ‘Note on Clauses’ contain only a laconic observation that “Clause 24 of the Bill seeks to provide appointment of Principal Officers and other staff of the Corporation”. It is very clear that the Legislature is just ill-treated by the Executive.

UPSC (EFC) Regulations violated by the ESIC:

13. It is essential for the Executive to convince the Legislature about the necessity that had arisen, from the perspective of the Executive, to make such additions. But the Executive has deliberately omitted doing so, in the matter of including the Nursing and Para-medical staff in the said Clause 24 (8). The bureaucrats have inserted these additions silently and without inviting the particular attention of the legislators for such an addition, especially when the Recruitment Regulations for the post of Nurses have been amended only in July 2019, in accordance with the law on the subject and, accordingly, conceding the role of the UPSC in the matter of appointment and promotion of Nurses in Group B and A.

14. In fact, the proposal for such an amendment was sent by the ESI Corporation, after inviting comments from the stakeholders two years ago, on 04.05.2017, and the UPSC, has given its concurrence to those amendments as per its letter F. No. 3/12 (8) /2019 – RR dated 05.07.2019 and has, thereby, assumed jurisdiction over the appointment and promotion of Nursing personnel in the ESI Corporation. The salient features of those amendments were:

a. The posts in the Nursing cadre were re-designated and re-classified as Nursing Officer ( Group B ), Senior Nursing Officer (Group B) and Assistant Nursing Superintendent (Group A).

b. The recruitment process in respect of all these posts would go to the UPSC.

c. The DPC meeting would be conducted by the UPSC and a member of the UPSC would be the Chairman of the DPC.

15. When all these actions are facts on record, there should be convincing reason advanced by the ESIC in the ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ and the ‘Notes on Clauses’ accompanying the Bill No. 375 of 2019, for deliberately violating the provisions of the UPSC (EFC) Regulations, 1958 and trying to usurp the powers of the UPSC. But the Bill concerned is totally silent on the issue.

Legislative Policy, a pre-requisite for Legislative Drafting, kept secret:

16. The Parliamentarians are entitled to know who made what changes in this Clause and who advised whom to insert the phrase “Nursing and Para-medical” and the word “Gazetted” in the Clause 24 (8) of the Bill No. 375 of 2019. The desire of the bureaucracy to keep this information secret is unlawful and impermissible. The legislature should always be, invariably, informed of the specific reasons behind the deletion of existing words and phrases and insertion of these new words and phrases in the already existing provisions. The legislative policy behind such a proposition should be made known to the Legislature beforehand. That has not been done in this case.

17. The procedure of drafting legislations require the rulers to entrust the Drafting Team with the ‘legislative policy’. Mr. Justice. M. Jagannadha Rao, Chairman of the 17th Law Commission of India, has written a paper on Legislative Drafting. He says, “The draftsman is not the author of the legislative policy, he merely tries to transform the legislative policy into words. The legislative policy is made by the political executive which belongs to the political party which is ruling the legislature or by the monarch who reigns over the country. The draftsman must, therefore, digest the legislative policy fully before he produces the instrument of legislation which can achieve the legislative purpose”. The issue here, with the impugned Code, is why the Executive has not made the concerned ‘legislative policy’ also known not only to the public but even to the Legislature. The Executive has not informed the Legislature about the direction in which the draftsman was advised to make a move, while drafting the Bill No. 375 of 2019. And that is unlawful.

The strange insertion of the word ‘Gazetted’:

18. It is submitted that the word ‘Gazetted’ inserted in Cl. 24 (6) of the Bill No. 375 of 2019 restricts the jurisdiction of the UPSC in respect of Groups B posts, which jurisdiction is now available under the existing Sec. 17 (3) of the ESI Act. The proposed law is that “Every appointment to posts..….corresponding to group A and group B Gazetted posts under the Central Government shall be made in consultation with the Union Public Service Commission”. This inclusion of the word ‘Gazetted’ in Clause 24 (8) in the Bill concerned is not at all necessary when the UPSC had already assumed jurisdiction over all the Group B Non-Gazetted posts also, in the Stenographic cadre as well as in the Nursing cadre. Moreover, no explanation to justify such an inclusion has been given either in the “Statement of Objects and Reasons” or in the “Notes on Clauses” accompanying the Bill. The draftsman did not think it necessary to adduce reasons and convince the law-makers for such an inclusion. His action and inaction are improper and unlawful and is a serious misconduct.

Inaction of the Ministry of Law:

19. Moreover, it is shocking that the Legislative wing of the Ministry of Law & Justice had not considered it necessary to probe into the legality or otherwise of this kind of silent insertion of the phrase “Nursing and Para-medical” in the Bill No. 375 of 2019, especially when the legislation, the Code on Social Security, 2019 is not a new one but one intended only to replace the ESI Act, 1948 and 8 others. Besides, the Ministry of Law ought to have made the Ministry of Labour & Employment explain its stand, about the absence of explanations to such commissions and omissions in the ‘Note on Clauses’ and the ‘Statement of Objects and Reasons’ which accompanied the Bill.

Observations of the Apex Court:

20. It is submitted that the Clause 24 (8) of the Code on Social Security, 2019 deals with the policy pertaining to public employment. Such an important policy cannot be evolved without there being a transparent legislative policy. It is only when the Bill in question is compared with the aforesaid legislative policy, one would be able to know whether the draftsman had performed his role right or had made such commissions and omissions in the draft Code to sabotage the policy.

21. It would be appropriate to recall in the context what the Hon’ble Apex Court had said, in Ramana Dayaram Shetty vs. The International Airport Authority of India and others (04.05.1979). Drawing support from the proposition laid down in M/s. Erusian Equipment and Chemicals Ltd, Hon’ble Supreme Court had observed as under: “This proposition would hold good in all cases of dealing by the Government with the public, where the interest sought to be protected is a privilege. It must, therefore, be taken to be the law that where the Government is dealing with the public, whether by way of giving jobs or …., the Government cannot act arbitrarily at its sweet will and, like a private individual, deal with any person it pleases, but its action must be in conformity with standard or norm which is not arbitrary, irrational or irrelevant.”

Prayer

22. The phrase “Nursing and Para-medical” and the word ‘Gazetted’  inserted in the Clause 24 (8) of the Bill No. 375 of 2019 would adversely affect the chances of employment of the aspiring candidates of the nation in the ESI Corporation, if and when the Bill becomes law, without proper modifications. It is unnecessary and totally unwarranted to take the jurisdiction of the UPSC away from the Group B posts in the ESIC. It is not in public interest too.

23. I, therefore, request you to kindly re-examine the issue and set things right in the interest of the nation.

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