Debating India


Law of slash & grab

Tuesday 6 June 2006

The pattern has now assumed a familiarity that is as predictable as it is disturbing: politicians circumventing uncomfortable court orders through the enactment of expedient legislation. We saw Maharashtra’s law-makers unanimously passing a law to defeat the Bombay High Court’s order asking for the demolition of 855 illegal buildings in Ulhasnagar. Last month Parliamentarians of every political hue closed ranks to bring the Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act into force in order to end the court-mandated demolition drive against illegal constructions in Delhi. Now the Karnataka government - in a bid to render the Supreme Court’s verdict allowing the private consortium handling the Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project to resume work - wishes to enact legislation that will help it to grab the prestigious road project.

The Bill is cynically termed the ?Streamlining of Karnataka Infrastructure Development and Land Reforms Bill 2006’. Far from streamlining infrastructure development in the state, it signals nothing less than a pro-active government intent on a nationalisation spree. This is, potentially, a great setback to public-private partnerships in a state that has been perceived as one of the more attractive investment destinations in India. That Karnataka’s present custodians would wish to do this and blight the state’s future is indicative of how personal agendas have come to subsume larger interests. Because it is as clear as daylight that the “streamlining” the Bill proposes to ensure is actually about controlling real estate - one of the few sectors that remain to be reformed.

The Bill is retrograde and needs to be safely consigned to the trash can. This is where the Congress and BJP can play an important interventionist role. Despite Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy’s obvious anxiety to push it through, the Bill cannot be enacted without the active support of the BJP and Congress in the state - the former being a partner in government; the latter, a dominant entity in the legislative council. The national leadership of the BJP and Congress must now ensure that their party colleagues in Karnataka do the right thing and ensure that the law of slash and grab is rendered null and void.

See online : The Indian Express

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