Govt’s guest control invites trouble, comes under challenge with political and bureaucratic circles

The guest control order by government has come under challenge with political and bureaucratic circles saying “the department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs is not competent to issue such an order and the cabinet alone can decide on such policy matters.”
“It is a major policy issue and needs cabinet approval for implementation. The department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs is not competent to decide on such issues,” an official wishing anonymity said.
Former CAPD Minister, Taj Mohiuddin, who had also issued a similar order in 2004, said only the Cabinet has the authority to decide on the issue.
“The (erstwhile) CAPD department had (in 2004) issued a Guest Control Order but later on we came to know that the cabinet alone has competence to decide on the issue,” he said.
He said the 2004 Guest Control Order was (then) approved by the Cabinet and a Cabinet Sub Committee was also constituted on the matter.
On May 25, 2004, the department had issued notification (SRO 145) under the provisions of Essential Commodities Act 1955 to regulate the hospitality in weddings. However, the order was put in abeyance by the Government which constituted a panel of Ministers to seek opinion of different stakeholders on the issue.
Later, the General Administration Department (vide order No.1463-GAD of 2004 on October 27, 2004) implemented the order.
However in 2006, the High Court set aside the order issued by PDP-Congress Government in 2004. “It is violative of the fundamental rights of the citizens, and therefore, cannot be sustained. It has not been mentioned in the policy decision in case anyone violates the same, who is competent to take cognizance of, whether the offence will be cognizable or non-cognizable, bailable or non-bailable and which court will be competent to try the offence,” the judgment reads.
In 1973, the Government had also issued a similar notification (SRO 455, dated 11th Sep) to limit the number of guests and dishes in weddings but that was also kept in abeyance by the Government following resentment over it.
Meanwhile, sources in State Law Ministry said the department order doesn’t derive power from any law. “We have not vetted it nor it is backed by any law. We don’t know under which law the order has been issued,” an official of the department said.
“What is the source of this order?” Former Chief Justice of Orrisa High Court, Justice (retd) Bilal Nazki wrote in a post on social networking website Facebook.
When contacted, the concerned Minister Choudary Zulfikar Ali said he has approval of the CM on the matter.
To a question on whether any law backs the order, the Minister said: “It is an administrative order and I am confident that High Court will not set it aside this time.”
Asked as to why the order was issued without cabinet approval, he said: “It is the prerogative of the Minister which matters he wants to take to the cabinet.”

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