Govt pats itself on back for ?successful? Budget session

The Hindu Business Line, August 14, 2014

Parliament was adjourned sine die as scheduled on Thursday with the Government claiming ?success and satisfaction? over the manner in which the Budget session was conducted.

The biggest achievement of the session, cited by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, was the passage of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Bill while the Government was disappointed for not having been able to pass the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill.

Briefing media at the conclusion of the session, Naidu said the Insurance Bill has been referred to the select committee in the Rajya Sabha.

?This is a time-bound process. We are expecting the Bill back by the end of the first week of the next session,? Naidu said. ?It is most disappointing that the Congress, which is the author of this Bill, blocked its passage. I feel sorry about it but we are restrained by our lack of majority in the Rajya Sabha.?

However, Naidu was elated by the passage of two crucial Bills aimed at creating an NJAC to replace the collegium system of appointment in the higher judiciary. The Government was willing to extend the session if the NJAC Bill was not passed.

?I was willing to go up till August 21 but everyone seemed to be exhausted and we have been able to pass a landmark Bill. The overall sense is that of satisfaction because not only have not been able to achieve the primary objective of this session ? that of getting the General Budget and the Railway Budget passed ? but also conduct the House in a much more efficient manner than ever before,? said Naidu.

?We have been able to pass a landmark law to create the NJAC. I take great pride in achieving in three months something that has been pending for over 20 years,? the Minister added.

Although the Minister said the Government strongly ?disapproved? of statements that ?questioned the impartiality of the Lok Sabha Speaker?, a reference to Rahul Gandhi?s remarks on Sumitra Mahajan when she did not suspend the question hour to allow an adjournment motion on communal violence, he was more than willing to allow the Opposition its due in the smooth conduct of the House.

?The Opposition deserves credit for effective functioning of the House. Although there is substantial scope still for improvement, I think by and large we fared well. The overall perception is that this Government is willing to walk the talk and perform,? said Naidu.

Interruptions galore

The Lok Sabha conducted 166 hours and 56 minutes of business of which 14 hours were lost to interruptions. However, the time lost was gained by 27 hours and 10 minutes as the House sat late to compensate the loss.

Similarly, in the Rajya Sabha, the total hours of business lasted 140 hours, of which 21 hours and 22 minutes were cited to have been lost to disruptions.

But the Upper House gained as many as 38 hours and 12 minutes in late sittings to compensate for the loss, according to information provided by the Parliamentary Affairs Minister.

Parliament passed 13 Bills including the National Institute of Design Bill, the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, the Securities Laws (Amendment) Bill, and the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty First Amendment) Bill besides the NJAC Bill in the just-concluded session?

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