The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed two bills — Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill and the Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill – amid disruptions without any discussion. The lower house has been witnessing protest by the Opposition as well as BJP allies TDP and AIADMK over several issues since the beginning of the second leg of Budget session last week.
In a related development, the Congress party walked out of the meeting of the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) of Lok Sabha held later in the day, alleging the central government of bulldozing the proceedings in the House.
A meeting of the BAC to decide on the Lok Sabha’s agenda for next week was held in Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s chamber this afternoon where leaders from a number of parties were present.
Earlier, moving the bill in the house, government termed them important piece of legislations seeking the opposition’s cooperation.
The Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill empowers the central government to notify the period of maternity leave eligible for qualifying as continuous service.
The maximum maternity leave has been amended from the earlier 12 weeks to 26 weeks by the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 passed last year. The bill, passed today, now removes the reference to 12 weeks and empowers the central government to notify the maximum maternity leave.
The Bill also proposes to empower the central government to notify the gratuity ceiling from time to time without amending the law. The maximum amount of gratuity payable to an employee under the law cannot exceed Rs 10 lakh. The Bill now removes the existing ceiling.
Moving the bill for passage, Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar said it is a very important legislation for employees, especially women.
The Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, other legislation passed in Lok sabha without discussion, proposes to grant a party the right to seek damages from the other side in case of a breach of business contract and reduce the discretion of courts in such matters.
The House was adjourned soon after the passage of the bills.
Unhappy with the passage of bills without any discussion, Congress leader and deputy chief whip of the party in the lower house KC Venugopal stormed out of the BAC meeting and claimed that the government was trying to avoid discussion on the PNB scam issue.
The Congress, Venugopal said, had agreed to cooperate in passage of important legislations like The Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill.
“The Government was hell bent on passing bills without any discussion, and is neither interested in amicably settling the issues in the House in a democratic manner,” Venugopal said in a statement.
The Government had on Wednesday passed the all-important Finance Bill and Demands for Grants without any discussion in the Lok Sabha.
(With inputs from Agencies)