*High-time for Legislature to take serious note of official apathy
JAMMU, Dec 21: In yet another testimony of disrespectful approach towards the State Legislature, the Power Development Department of the State is treating as ‘trash’ a vital report of Legislative Assembly Panel on three important laws during the past nearly three years. This is notwithstanding the fact that adherence to the recommendations would have helped the Government in ensuring effective implementation of the legislations in the power sector.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that the Committee on Subordinate Legislation for the year 2013-14 headed by PDP MLA Abdul Haq Khan, who is presently Minister for Law and Justice in the PDP-BJP Coalition Government, in its report tabled in Legislative Assembly on February 25, 2014, had stressed the need for immediate preparation of Rules for three main Acts of the Power Development Department. The Committee had asked for prompt follow-up action on its recommendations as formulation of Rules was already delayed by several years.
However, those at the helm of affairs in the Power Development Department have not paid any serious attention towards the recommendations of the Committee till date thereby indicating that report has been lying as ‘trash’ in one of the corners of the department in the Civil Secretariat, sources said.
Giving details, sources said that J&K Electricity Act, 2010 was enacted on April 28, 2010 to consolidate the laws relating to generation, transmission, distribution, trading and use of electricity, protecting interest of consumers and supply of electricity to all areas, rationalization of electricity tariff, ensuring transparent policies regarding subsidies, promotion of efficient and environmentally benign policies etc. Section 137 of this Act gives sufficient powers to the Government to make Rules for carrying out these provisions of the Act without any ambiguity.
“Though the process of formulation of J&K Electricity Rules was initiated in 2012 but the exercise could not reach the logical conclusion as after receiving observations from the Law Department on the Draft Rules no further step was initiated by the Power Development Department”, they said, adding even after the recommendations of the Committee on Subordinate Legislation the concerned authorities preferred to ignore the issue despite the fact that Rules are imperative for any piece of Act as Rules define the procedure for implementation of Act.
Similarly, J&K Energy Conservation Act, 2011 was enacted on April 23, 2011 for the purpose of demand side management of power consumption and to ensure effective use of energy and its conservation. But its Rules have not been framed till date despite the fact that Section 37 of the Act empowers Government to make Rules to carry out the provisions of the Act.
Moreover, the Power Development Department has not prepared the Rules of J&K Electricity (Duty) Act, 1963 although its Section 11 confers powers on the Government to make rules for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of Act, sources said. This is notwithstanding the fact that Committee on Subordinate Legislation for the year 2013-14 had suggested the department to utilize the services of highly skilled professionals /legal experts while framing the rules or regulations due to their technical nature and to ensure that this vital exercise is completed in a time-bound manner.
It is pertinent to mention here that Committee on Subordinate Legislation is considered as one of the important House Panels because of the fact that it performs the task of examining and scrutinizing the rules, regulations and by-laws framed under various Acts (legislations).
It ascertains whether the rules, regulations and by-laws framed by any of the subordinate authority in pursuance of the provisions of the Constitution or Acts exceed the limits. Moreover, the Committee on Subordinate Legislation is empowered to find out lacuna in the rules and make necessary recommendations to the department concerned for strict implementation that too in a time-bound manner.
“The prevailing situation, which clearly establishes disrespectful attitude of the departments towards the recommendations of House Panels, demands that Presiding Officers of Legislative Assembly as well as Legislative Council should take serious note of this and come up with mechanism during the forthcoming Budget Session to make the bureaucrats accountable for implementation of recommendations of committees in a time-bound manner otherwise carrying out detailed exercise by different committees is nothing else than an unfruitful exercise”, sources suggested.