ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Disclosure of Lobbying Activities Bill, 2013

A private member's bill has recently been introduced in Parliament to regulate political lobbying, which it defines as "an integral part of democratic functioning". This article analyses the various aspects of this bill and asks whether India's political class is willing to bite the bullet of making lobbying a legitimate political activity.

In a society where lobbying is almost synonymous with bribery and where lobbyists often creatively couch themselves as political aides, public relations officers and advocates for policy change, the Disclosure of Lobbying Activities Bill, 2013 (DLA Bill/Bill) recently introduced in the Lok Sabha1 by a Member of Parliament can perhaps be seen as the first ever acknowledgement by a parliamentarian of India’s worst-kept secret. This private member’s bill, introduced in the wake of the Nira Radia tapes scandal, and more recently, Walmart’s regulatory disclosure to United States authorities of having engaged in lobbying activities to secure enhanced access to Indian markets, the bill intends to procure transparency in the context of lobbying activity undertaken in India.

The DLA Bill is a significant step, as for the first time in the history of Indian lawmaking, a potential law recognises that lobbying is an integral part of democratic functioning.2 Whilst it remains to be seen whether or not the bill will ever translate into a law, it implicitly indicates lawmakers’ willingness to consider a proposal for a law, which requires them to shrug off years of denial of the omnipresent relationship between lobbying and lawmaking.

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