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Innocent MPs Vs. Wily Bureaucrats – Episode 2

To
1. Hon’ble Speaker,
House of the People (Lok Sabha),
17, Parliament House,
New Delhi 110011

2. Mr. Bhartruhan Mahtab,
Hon’ble M.P. & Chairman,
Standing Committee of Parliament on Labour,
South Block,
New Delhi – 110011

(Through Mr. Kulvinder Singh, Deputy Secretary, Parliament of India,
House of the People. Email: comm.labour-lss@sansad.nic.in)

Sub: Appointment of Consultants and Specialists in ESI Corporation – – insertion of Second Proviso to Clause 24 (7) (a) of the Bill No. 375 of 2019 – legislative process – bureaucrats continue to cheat the Parliament – representation – submitted.

Ref: 1. Bill No. 66-C of 2009 placed before the Lower House of the Parliament as The ESI (Amendment) Bill, 2009 on 30.07.2009.
2. Report dated 09.12.2009 of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour.
3. Record (Minutes) of the proceedings of the Lok Sabha on 03.05.2010.
4. Bill No. 66-C of 2009 as passed by the House of the People on 03.05.2010 titled The ESI (Amendment) Bill, 2010.
5. CAG Report No. 40 of 2015 on Special Audit of Medical Education Projects in the ESI Corporation.
6. Draft Code on Social Security circulated in the MOL&E Circular No. Z-13025/13/2015-LRC dated 17.09.2019.
7. The Code on Social Security, 2019, placed as Bill No. 375 of 2019 before the House of the People (Lok Sabha).

Sir,

1. I submit this representation to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour (hereinafter referred to as the PSCL) with a request to kindly examine in depth the Second Proviso to Clause No. 24 (7) (a) of the Bill on The Code on Social Security, 2019 (Bill No. 375 of 2019 of the Lok Sabha) which has been worded in a nebulous and ambiguous manner.

2. This Clause is shown to have been included for the purpose of appointing Specialists and Consultants in the ESIC Hospitals for better delivery of Super Speciality Services. But this clause which is the exact reproduction of the Second Proviso to the Sec. 17 (2) (a) of the ESI Act, 1948 did not serve that purpose. In fact the Second Proviso to the Sec. 17 (2) (a) of the ESI Act, 1948, was inserted in the ESI Act, ten years ago, with ulterior motive, through an amendment vide Bill No. 66-C of 2009 of the Lok Sabha, and it had been the cause of various scandals unearthed later by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and some of them recorded in Para 2.3, Para 2.4 and Para 2.5 of his Report No. 40 of 2015 (Page 8 to 12 – Special Audit of Medical Education Projects).

3. I submit that such scandals became possible because of (a) the insertion of that provision as Second Proviso to Sec. 17 (2) (a) of the ESI Act, 1948, instead of its appropriate place as the Second Proviso to Sec. 17 (3) of the said Act and (b) the absence of insertion of definition to the terms ‘Specialists’ and ‘Consultants’ in the ESI Act along with the aforesaid amendment.

4. I therefore submit that the present Cl. 24 (7) (a) of the Bill No. 375 of 2019, as it is at present, would definitely become the cause of further abuse as had happened in the past decade in the ESI Corporation, unless the PSCL inquires the authorities of the facts behind it and causes modification of it. What is required to be done is to insert this Clause in its appropriate place below the Cl. 24 (8) of the Bil No. 375 of 2019 and to incorporate, in the Bill itself, the definitions for the terms ‘Specialists’ and ‘Consultants’. I, therefore, request that the Committee may kindly bestow more attention for evaluating this provision, in the light of facts submitted in this representation and the Appendices.

5. The Second Proviso to the Clause No. 24 (7) (a) of the Bill No. 375 of 2019 which is, now, under the scrutiny of the PSCL at present reads as under:

“Provided further that this sub-section shall not apply to appointment of consultants and specialists in various fields appointed on contract basis.”

6. The second proviso to the Clause 5 of the Bill No. 66-C of 2009, introduced ten years ago to make amendment to Sec. 17 (2) (a) of the ESI Act,1948, which was scrutinized by the then PSCL, read as under:

“Provided further that this sub-section shall not apply to appointment of consultants and specialists in various fields appointed on contract basis.”

7. The PSCL had examined this provision in depth then and did not approve it the way it approved many of the other genuine provisions in the Bill No. 66-C of 2009. Yet the procedure had been manipulated, the observations of the PSCL overlooked and the defective Clause 5 of the Bill became law on 03.05.2010 enabling the persons in power to indulge in various scandals.

8. I submit that this Clause, which had been inserted in through the Bill No. 66-C of 2009, was not an innocuous provision. It was inserted in a pre-meditated manner with a view to indulge in various scandals. Instead of placing it as the second proviso to Sec. 17 (3) of the ESI Act, the bureaucrats connived to insert it as the second proviso to Sec. 17 (2) (a) of the ESI Act. (Please see Appendix B). Their apparent intention was (i) to appoint anyone as Specialist or Consultant for any non-medical purpose, (ii) to ignore the proper method of recruitment, (iii) to pay such an appointee extraordinary remuneration without any guideline being anywhere and (iv) to keep those appointees beyond the pale of all kinds of disciplinary provisions. I request that this provision need not again be made a part of law through the proposed Code on Social Security, 2019 vide the Bill No. 375 of 2019 which is now under the effective consideration of the PSCL.

Appendix B

9. It is essential for the PSCL to know the fact that when the Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, suspected the bona fides of the provision in the Bill No. 66-C of 2019 and came forward with valid suggestion during the meeting of the Committee of Secretaries held on 06.01.2009 to prevent the abuse of this provision, the Director General, ESI Corporation chipped in and clarified that it was only an enabling provision and that the rules would be framed later. His defence was endorsed by the Cabinet Secretary who was present in the meeting and observed that the issue might be examined “at the time of framing of rules.” But it is a pity that the promises of the Director General of the ESI Corporation and the Cabinet Secretary were not kept. Consequently, no rules under the provisions of Subordinate Legislation have ever been framed regarding the appointment of Specialists and Consultants till date, although many had been appointed through questionable means in the organization leading to the objection by the CAG too.

10. I, therefore, request that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour may be pleased

a. to dispense with this provision altogether and direct the ESI Corporation to follow the procedure adopted in the AIIMS, JIPMER, etc., for appointment of Specialists and Consultants in medical fields, or

b. to advise the authorities concerned to formulate the provision properly to enable them to appoint only the Specialists and Consultants with medical qualifications to meet the requirement of the ESI Corporation in providing super speciality medical benefit to the ailing beneficiaries in the ESIC run medical institutions;

c. to advise the authorities to incorporate suitable definition for the terms ‘Specialists’ and ‘Consultants’ under Clause 2 of the Bill under consideration; and

d. to shift this impugned proviso from the present position as the Second Proviso to Clause 24 (7) (a) of the Bill on the Code on Social Security, 2019 ( Bill No. 375 of 2019) and to insert the same as the Second Proviso to Clause 24 (8) of the said Bill to prevent abuse of the provision once again by making extraordinary payments to the people who are appointed as Specialists and Consultants. (Please see Appendix C)

11. I submit herewith a Write-up containing the relevant details pertaining to the abuse of law-making-process in the year 2009 and 2010 to insert the Second Proviso under Sec. 17 (2) (a) of the ESI Act. I believe that the PSCL may find the precedent and the details thereof useful to arrive at a decision, as deemed fit, on the unwarranted Proviso which has been inserted as Clause No. 24 (7) (a) of the Bill,

Yours faithfully,

Encl: Appendices A, B & C.

Appendix C

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