TRAI amendment bill gets Parliamentary approval
NEW DELHI: With its successful passage in the Rajya
Sabha on Tuesday, parliamentary approval was accorded to a bill seeking to
amend the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Act to facilitate
appointment of its former chairman Nripendra Misra as the principal secretary
to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The TRAI Act prohibited the regulatory authority’s
chairman and members from taking up any other job in the central or state
governments after demitting office. The bill, that seeks to do away with this
restriction, was passed through voice vote in the Rajya Sabha Tuesday, a day
after it got the Lok Sabha’s nod.
The bill replaces an ordinance brought by the National
Democratic Alliance (NDA) government to remove the restriction and facilitate
Mishra’s appointment. Opposing the legislation, Congress member Mani Shankar
Aiyar said, “The bill is a violation of law. The prime minister had many other
options rather than going against law.”
“It is mala fide to make or change a law for just one
person,” he said. “There is only one reason prime minister is adamant on having
him (Misra). This is a total authoritarian manner,” he said.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, however, said the
legislation is not for one person. “The bill is not for just one person. Should
we presume there shall be no TRAI chairman in future whose services may be
needed by government? It is not single person-centric legislation, it is
bringing TRAI in tandem with other regulatory authorities,” he said.
He also clarified that Misra has been chosen for the
post of principal secretary “on the basis of his capacity and talent.” A 1967
batch Indian Administrative Service officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, Mishra
was made TRAI chief after his retirement from service. His appointment as the
principal secretary to the prime minister will be co-terminus with the term of
the prime minister or till further orders.
The bill met with stiff opposition from the Congress
and other opposition parties, which questioned why the government was changing
regulations for just one person.