People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 22

June 03, 2012



CPI(M) Parliamentary Office


SPEAKING on the centre-state relations in Lok Sabha, CPI(M) group’s leader Basudeb Acharia mentioned that this issue was discussed in parliament in 1968 when it was admitted that our constitution was federal in structure but unitary in character. The centre has often made moves for over-centralisation of powers in its hands at the cost of the states. We have seen how the autonomy given to Jammu and Kashmir was gradually eroded after its merger with India.




When the demand arose to strengthen the states’ autonomy, the government of India appointed the Sarkaria commission that submitted its report in 1988. Yet one wonders how many of its recommendations have been implemented. We find that many of the subjects in the states list, like education, were gradually brought to the concurrent list. In recent period, the centre adopted a disturbing approach about setting up the NCTC, to further encroach upon the power of the states. Similarly, the government amended the RPF Act, under which the RPF would henceforth discharge the responsibilities of the GRP, which is under the state government. Additional powers have been given to the BSF.


Later in 2007 the centre set up a new commission under Justice M M Punchi, and it submitted its report in 2010. But there was no action taken report (ATR).


The main problem in regard to strengthening the centre-state relations is that states are not getting justice from the centre. For example, after a bill’s passage in a state assembly, the president or the governor takes undue time to give his assent. Yet the Inter-State Council’s decision that there should be some time limit about it, remains unimplemented. In fact, the Inter-State Council was itself set up in 1990, after 43 years of independence, though article 263 provided for it. As for article 356, it was imposed 104 times without any justification, though they cannot use it now as the ruling coalition does not have majority in both the houses. Moreover, the centre has not implemented the Supreme Court’s judgement in Bommai case that there is need to provide enough safeguards.


Acharia also opposed the institution of governorship, but added that the procedure for appointment of governors must be changed if at all they want to continue with it. The Sarkaria recommendation was that a state’s chief minister would send a list of three eminent persons to the president of India, who would nominate one of them as its governor. The commission also recommended that no person who is active in politics should be appointed as governor. But the centre has violated it.


As for devolution of financial powers, states bear around 60 per cent of the cost of development works. But how much fund is being provided to the state governments? It is 32.5 per cent while the demand is that it should be 50 per cent.


In case of residual subjects, the central government has the exclusive right; the states have none. This must change. Similarly, the proceeds of taxation on residual matters must not be the centre’s exclusive domain. Revision of royalty is also at the central government’s mercy. A large number of centrally sponsored schemes are simply imposed upon states. The central government has the right to borrow from the market, while states are not allowed to borrow more than 15 per cent from the market. The country cannot get strong unless more autonomy, financial as well as administrative, is given to state governments. The member demanded positive moves to restructure the central-state relations without further delay, on the lines suggested in the house from time to time.




In Lok Sabha, A Sampath spoke on Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development Bill 2011, dubbing the government’s approach as “cut, paste and copy.” He said millions of our youth have dreams, but the government has not done much to make their dreams come true.


Regarding the proposed institute, the member said the government must not be adamant to exclude the members of parliament from its executive council. Members of parliament are represented in many universities. The structure of the institute’s authority mentioned in Chapter III is a bureaucratic one. The member also demanded due representation for youth organisations in the institute.


In Rajya Sabha, Prasanta Chatterjee supported the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill 2012, asking the minister to bring a comprehensive STs list because, for example, a community is recognised in one state but not in an adjacent state.


In Lok Sabha, while speaking on the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2011, Dr Anup Kumar Saha talked of the government’s willingness to cover various aspects of the society in copyright matters. The state has the responsibility to protect a creator’s rights, but it should also ensure a user’s rights and prevent commercialisation so that users get a product at affordable prices. We see many of the artists exploited by producers and living in misery. The government should take care of them and provide them pensions, so that they can live gracefully. Going through the statement of bill’s objects and reasons, it seems the act is amended to comply with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Copyright Treaty 1996 and WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty 1996, to which our country is no signatory. The minister has cleverly removed ‘Parallel Import’ to protect the publishers’ interest, which is against the standing committee’s recommendation. This must be withdrawn.


In Lok Sabha, sharing the joys of the Sikh community, Susmita Bauri spoke on the Anand Marriage (Amendment) Bill, describing it as the fulfilment of a long pending demand, and expressed full support for it.


While speaking on the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill 2012, Bauri said it was an important piece of legislation in the interest of children and made some suggestions about it. She said there is an alarming increase in cases of sexual offences against children, and most of these are committed by persons known or related to children. Our existing laws are not effective in curbing the crimes and in giving justice to the victims. The proposed bill is fairly comprehensive in its approach, but has limitations. There is a mention of fine but its quantum is unspecified. Similarly, the punishment given is very light. A number of crimes are taking place in child homes. There should be provision for more stringent actions.




Moving a statutory motion in Rajya Sabha, P Rajeeve said it was after a long time that parliament was discussing a statutory motion. He further said we are not for control on internet but its regulation. The Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rule is an attempt to control the cyber space. The IT Act 2000 has a very strong provision to regulate internet. Section 69 (1) of the act gives powers to block any information through any computer resource. Then, section 69 (3) talks of intermediaries like Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter, etc. The act makes strong provisions to control them. It is true that intermediaries have no editorial control over the content, and section 79 intends to give them protection. In 2002, Delhi High Court specifically stated that pre-censorship cannot be countenanced constitutionally. The new rule under discussion imposes an obligation on intermediaries to remove any content within 36 hours on receiving complaint from an affected person. Section 69 gives power to government to issue direction for interception, monitoring or decryption of any information through any computer resource. It clearly specifies what are the procedures for the executive to take information with regard to the user. The Intermediaries Guidelines mandates an intermediary to provide information of assistance to government agencies. There is also a clear violation of the parliament’s rights, as the executive cannot undertake a legislative function. If the government wants any change, it has to come to parliament. Secondly, this rule is in violation of the constitution as it does not provide the users an opportunity to reply to the complaint and justify their case. Also, the content prohibited on internet may be lawful in other media. The member also said government control cannot replace self-regulation. We should protect the multi-stakeholder nature of the internet. The member demanded withdrawal of the rule, describing it as an attack on the freedom of speech and expression.


The minister made a statement after a long discussion in the house. Replying to the debate, Rajeeve further said there are certain other ways to get information from a user. Speaking about certain other sections of the act, the member described the latter as censorship and urged the minister to come with an amended rule within a time frame.


In Rajya Sabha, K N Balagopal brought a statutory motion regarding the Modification of the Airports Authority of India (Major Airports) Development Fees Rules 2011. He said the International Air Transport Association has described Delhi as the costliest airport in the world. The member said he has reservations about user fee and privatisation. User fee should be as per the provisions of the constitution and legal provisions of the Airports Authority of India Act. Delhi Airport and Mumbai Airport were given to private parties in 2006 through bidding and in 2009 the government gave them permission to collect the user fee. Some organisations went to the court saying this was illegal and the High Court upheld the central government’s decision, but the Supreme Court said user fee collection was not being done as per rules. Then the government proposed a set of rules, and this was brought to the house on August 25, 2012. The Airport Economic Regulatory Authority Act says they have to fix fee every five years. But they fixed the fee in 2011 and did it again this month. There is no audit for the kind of institutions engaged in collection. Some 5,000 acres of land were given to Delhi Airport for its development but 200 acres are still unutilised. If the government leases it out at market rate, it can earn Rs 20,000 crore from this alone. However, the initial cost of the airport was around Rs 8,000 crore, and now it comes to around 12,500 crore or 13,000 crore. The corruption involved here must be enquired into, some auditing must be there and the relevant rules amended.


Speaking on this motion, CPI(M) group leader Sitaram Yechury said we were expected to ensure that no other airport was privatised beyond Delhi and Mumbai, and that all development was done by the Airports Authority of India. But, despite the committee’s recommendation, only aeronautical services were covered and commercial ones not covered under the rules. The point here is that a passenger has to pay a development fee for embarkation and disembarkation. This is making the Delhi Airport most expensive in the world. It is also distortion of the bidding process. The government must not burden the passengers but improve efficiency to profits.


There was uproar in Rajya Sabha over this issue. The minister for civil aviation made a statement, requesting for withdrawal of the motion. He appreciated the suggestions regarding transparency and right to information in PPP projects. Balagopal withdrew the motion after the minister’s assurance but demanded that Rs 1,481 crore collected by airport management must be deposited in a separate account and utilised for improving facilities under the AAI. He also sought a thorough audit of funds by the CAG.