Post Oppn letter to Chairman: 8 of 10 Bills introduced in Rajya Sabha

Indian Express, July 27, 2019

A day after 17 opposition parties wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, flagging concerns about the government rushing through Bills, sources in the Rajya Sabha Secretariat on Saturday said that eight of 10 Bills introduced first in the Upper House in the last two years were referred to department-related standing committees.

As per procedure, Bills can be referred to a standing committee only when they are introduced in a particular House, and not when they are transmitted, officials said.

On the RTI Bill, an official said, “The RTI Bill was not sent to the select committee following due process. The Opposition insisted on referring the Bill as passed by Lok Sabha to the select committee, but they (Opposition) lost the vote.”

The Bills that the Rajya Sabha sent to Parliamentary standing committees during Naidu’s tenure as presiding officer of the House are Allied and Healthcare Professionals Bill, Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, International Financial Services Centres Bill, National Institutes of Food Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, National Commission for Homeopathy Bill, National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, Constitution (125th Amendment) Bill, and Registration of Marriage of Non-Resident Indian Bill.

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, introduced in and passed by Lok Sabha after scrutiny by the standing committee, was sent to the Rajya Sabha, which sent it to a select committee of RS.

Two Bills that were first introduced in the Upper House but not referred to the standing committee are Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bill, and Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Second Amendment) Bill.

Besides, the Lok Sabha had referred seven Bills to the standing committees. These are The Code of Wages Bill 2019, National Medical Commission Bill 2019, Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2019 (also referred to select committee Rajya Sabha), Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill 2019, Consumer Protection Bill 2019, Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019, and Interstate River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill 2019.

These seven Bills are proposed to be taken up in Rajya Sabha during the current session, now that it has been extended till August 7.

In their letter, the opposition parties stated, “While we understand our responsibility and the need to enact legislation, any attempt by the government to undermine the privileges of members, rules and established conventions will diminish the role of the Council of States as envisaged by our founding fathers.”

The signatories are Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress, Derek O’Brien (TMC), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), T K Rangarajan (CPM), Majeed Memon (NCP), Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD), S C Misra (BSP), Sanjay Singh (SSP), and Vaiko (MDMK).

During the ongoing 249th Session of Rajya Sabha, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (Amendment) Bill, Arbitration and Conciliation Bill, 2019 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2019 were first introduced in Rajya Sabha and were passed without being referred to standing committees.

Sources in the government said that since the committees are yet to be formed, that was not an option.

One more Bill – Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Amendment) Bill – is still to be taken up for consideration in Rajya Sabha.

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