On May 26, when the Narendra Modi-led NDA government assumes office, topping its agenda would be ensuring the clearance of 95 state legislation stuck with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) since many years. The legislation are awaiting the President’s assent under Article 201 of the Constitution or grant of prior sanction of the President before being introduced in respective state Assemblies.
According to MHA data accessed by The Indian Express, the list of state government Bills pending with the Centre includes some anti-terror laws akin to the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999. One Bill proposed by the Modi-led Gujarat government — the Gujarat Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Law (Amendment) Bill, 2011 — which proposes to lift the restriction on conversion of agricultural land into non-agricultural for health and educational purposes, is also awaiting clearance from the Centre.
“We are awaiting fresh instructions about these pending legislation. Clearing these won’t be a problem but a political decision is required,” said a senior MHA officer.
Apart from the Bills, three ordinances proposed to be issued by various state governments, including the Rajasthan Women (Prevention of Atrocities) Ordinance, 2013, are pending with the MHA, awaiting previous approval of the President under Article 213 (1) of the Constitution.
Incidentally, it is not just the opposition-ruled states that had to bear the brunt of indecision by the UPA government. For example, there are eight Bills in Andhra Pradesh awaiting the approval of the President, while 13 legislation in Maharashtra are still stuck with the MHA.
However, one of the most contentious legislation — the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime Act — which remained a major point of tussle between the Modi-led Gujarat government and the UPA government at the Centre, was cleared by the state governor in 2009 and is a law.
The BJP and many NDA constituents have time and again accused the outgoing government of playing petty politics in refusing to grant Presidential assent to important Bills passed by opposition-ruled states.
The oldest pending Bill is the Maharashtra Animal Preservation (Amendment) Bill 1995, which was enacted by the then BJP-Shiv Sena government.