Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has approved a bill to make all sector regulators directly accountable to Parliament. The Regulatory Reforms Bill 2013 says: "Overall functioning of the regulator should be subject to scrutiny by Parliament. The regulator may submit an annual report to Parliament (directly) setting out ...the outcomes it hopes to achieve."
A source connected with the developments told The Indian Express: "The Prime Minister has approved it last week and we have circulated it to all ministries for consultation." The draft bill also gives powers of licensing to the regulatory authorities, which is not the case currently. Licensing remains the prerogative of the concerned ministries.
This bill will make regulators directly accountable to Parliament and open them to scrutiny by various committees. "By the end of every fiscal, they will have to submit a report to Parliament on all they did last year and the agenda for next year. Their orders will also be open for debate in Parliament and clarifications can be sought not only from Parliament but also from various committees," said the source.
The change will bring 13 Indian regulators (except those in the financial sector) in line with the rules of the UK and US. The regulators in the UK are accountable to the government, which reports to their Parliament, and regulators in the US report to the Congress.
The reports should share details of enforcement orders, final or provisional decisions along with the status of compliance thereof, details of government directions given to the regulatory authority during that year. It should also include details on general survey of activities during the year of the advisory committee, and report on such other matters as the government may in consultation with the regulatory commission, from time to time require.
The norms will be applicable to regulators in the electricity, oil and gas, coal, telecommunication and internet, broadcasting and cable TV, posts, airports, ports, waterways, railways, mass rapid transit system, highways and water supply and sanitation.
A regulatory commission may, upon application made to it under this Act or under any applicable law and the rules thereunder, by license authorise any person to engage in the provision of specified services, in any area which may be stipulated in the license," said the draft of the Bill on the Planning Commission's website. The draft bill also stipulates that a person, who had been in the government and dealt with a particular department, can join the regulator of that department only after a 12-month break.
"No person who has held any office in a department of the central government or the state government, as the case may be, and has directly dealt with the subjects falling in the jurisdiction of the regulatory commission or appellate tribunal, as the case may be, shall be eligible for selection hereunder until expiry of one year from the date of demitting such office," reads the draft.
* This bill will make regulators directly accountable to Parliament and open them to scrutiny by various committees of the House
* The regulators will submit annual reports to the Parliament on the activities done by them such as enforcement orders, final or provisional decisions etc.
Source- Indian Express