With each passing day, the Parliamentary proceedings are seeing a new low. Amid Opposition boycott, Rajya Sabha passes seven bills. There was no parliamentary oversight, no bills being sent to committees for scrutiny. No MPLADS. No question hour. No major debates.
Most of the Opposition, comprising the Congress, Left parties, the TMC, the Samajwadi Party, and the NCP, decided to boycott proceedings for the remainder of the session in protest against the suspension of eight MPs.
Major opposition politicians Jairam Ramesh, who was also seen as vehemently protesting against the hurried passage of the Farm Bills on Sunday, tweeted to list the opposition’s demands.
“The government should introduce another bill which ensures that private players do not purchase beneath the MSP. On this, farmers can move court. MSPs should be announced using the Swaminathan formula. The state corporations and FCI should not purchase below MSPs. Our colleagues who have been suspended—their suspension should be revoked. Till the time the government does not take it back, we will boycott the proceedings of the House,” Azad said.
Rajya Sabha passed seven key bills in three-and-a-half hours.
- The first bill passed was the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 that seeks to declare five Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) set up under the public-private partnership model.
- The next Bill moved by Minister of State for Consumer Affairs Danve Raosaheb Dadarao was the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020. This is one of the legislations which has sparked widespread farmers’ protests. The legislation passed was a key bill removing removes cereals, pulses, and onion from the Essential Commodities list. Apart from the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 the other two bills related to farmers are ‘Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020′ and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance. Farmers in many states are protesting against these bills passed by the Parliament. They say that they are apprehensive about getting Minimum Support Price for their produce. They are also concerned about the upper hand of the agri-businesses and big retailers in negotiations. Farmers also believes that the companies may dictate the price and the benefits for small farmers may reduce the engagement of sponsors with them.
- The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which was moved by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was also passed in the Upper House.
- The fourth bill that was passed was the Companies (Amendment) Bill which amended 13 sections and added one chapter for ease of living. The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 removes penalty, imprisonment for nine offences that pertain to orders of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). It also reduces the amount of fine payable in certain cases.
- The fifth bill that was cleared was the National Forensic Sciences University Bill, 2020. MoS Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy said the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University is being upgraded to a national university and the Gujarat government had given in-principle approval.
- The House also passed the Rashtriya Raksha University Bill, 2020, to upgrade the Gandhinagar police training university to a national university.
- The seventh Bill the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020 was returned by Rajya Sabha. The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Ordinance, 2020 was promulgated on March 31, 2020. The Ordinance provides certain relaxations related to compliance, such as an extension of the time limit and waiver of penalty, in relation to certain specified laws. These laws include the Income Tax Act, 1961 (IT Act), some Finance Acts, the Central Excise Act, 1944, the Customs Act, 1962, and the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions Act, 1988. The Ordinance provides these relaxations in view of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in India.
With such proceedings in the order it’s high time to ponder: Do we really need parliament with taxpayer money where the constitutional values and basic rights are have not been following? The efforts of the opposition to revive democracy ultimately fizzled and fell flat, with little to no movement on the ground by the government.
Several key opposition leaders such as Shashi Tharoor, Kanimozhi, and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury protested against the contentious farm bills outside Parliament today. It is disappointing that after suspending democracy and rule of law GOI is suspending opposition from parliament.