NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court is set to take up on October 31 an important PIL by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay for a direction to the Centre and States to publish draft legislations 60 days before introducing those in Parliament and State Assemblies.
A bench of Chief Justice U U Lalit and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi would take up the matter.
Upadhyay pleaded for putting draft in public domain prominently which would make professionals and others to discuss the proposed statutes strengthening the law making process.
He asked the court to ensure that the decisions taken in the meeting of the Committee of the Secretaries on January 10, 2014, under the Chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary on Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy were complied with in order to ensure wide public discussion and feedback.
"A rigorous public debate on the law for two months would force the Executive to analyse every aspect. When the law would be debated in the parliament, MLAs/MPs will give better suggestions as well. After all this, the new draft (if published in all regional languages) would encompass all suggestions received from all sections, thus it would be error-free and democratically viable," his plea stated.
It further claimed that this would eliminate the challenging of the law, as the court can ask the petitioner why he/she hadn't given his/her suggestion to the government. "Such a law-making process would be more effective and transparent. It would also strengthen democracy and reduce the load of PILs," the plea suggested.
The petitioner said the cause of action accrued on November 26, 2020, when farmer and labour unions protested against the three farm Acts. On November 30, 2020, farmers converged at various border points of Delhi and continued to protest.
"As the draft was not published for wide consultation and feedback, this has led to a lot of misinformation and protest among the farmers and political vultures are using this chaos to advance their own cause, using the farmers as a front," he claimed.
Upadhyay claimed in view of the recommendations of the National Advisory Council, the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution and comparative international practices, the Government of India had conceived of a Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy in 2014. It was then made mandatory for the Ministry or Department concerned to publish or place in the public domain the draft legislation or at least the information that may include a brief justification for such legislation, essential elements of proposed legislation, its broad financial implications.
He said the existing law making process is not only undemocratic but also unconstitutional.
"Secretaries of the respective departments draft the bill and cabinet approves it without wider public discussion and feedback. It is only after the Parliament/Assembly debate that the public is made aware of it. Moreover, many times, the government makes new laws even when amending the existing law would suffice. It not only exhausts the public resources but also is a complete waste of legislature's time," his plea said.
For example, conversion by the carrot and stick (deceitful conversion) is a national problem and adding just one sentence to Section 493 of the IPC can make the conversion by 'hook or crook' a serious offence all over India but States are making new law through ordinance. Similarly, removing a sentence from S. 494 can make polygamy a serious offence for all citizens but Centre is waiting for the apex Court's verdict.
Likewise, after the Supreme Court judgment, Triple Talaq is now void and unconstitutional and has no impact on a marriage.
Now, it has been rendered a mental cruelty which could have been done by adding a sentence to S. 498A, IPC.
"Law-making process needs drastic reforms. Any Draft Legislation, except those related to National Security, must be published on the government's website for at least 60 days before introduction in Parliament / State Legislature. People will come to know about the law through various platforms such as electronic print and social media. Experts would analyse it, professionals would debate it and people representatives will discuss in their constituencies. It will strengthen the concept of socialist secular democratic republic," the plea said.