With its successful passage in the Rajya Sabha 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.