Business in the Rajya Sabha collapsed due to lack of quorum towards the end of today’s proceedings, as a result of which a bill on jurisdiction and settlement of maritime claims could not be taken up.
The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims), 2016, which was pased by the Lok Sabha in March this year, could not be deliberated upon as the House had to be adjourned prematurely.
There were only 23 members present in the House at around 5.15 pm against the requirement of 25 for quorum.
As Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Mansukh L Mandaviya initiated the proceedings on the bill, Congress member Jairam Ramesh stood up and asked the Chair to check if sufficient number of members were present in the House.
“How can you pass the bill when there is no quorum in the House? It is your (government’s) responsibility to ensure quorum in the House,” said Ramesh.
This prompted Deputy Chairman P J Kurien to initiate a counting of members present in the House.
Sensing that there might be a shortfall in the required numbers, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi rushed out of the House to bring in a few members.
But his efforts went in vain as he could muster only one member and as only 23 members were counted, Kurien adjourned the House for the day.
The bill seeks to repeal laws such as the Admiralty Court Act, 1861, the Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890.
Currently, there are 12 major ports and 205 minor ports in India but under the existing legislation, matters related to admiralty could be decided only by the High Courts of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras.
The bill intends to extend this to the High Courts of Karnataka, Gujarat, Orissa, Kerala, Hyderabad and any other High Court notified by the central government.
Earlier in the day too, start of post-lunch proceedings were delayed by a few minutes due to lack of quorum.
During the proceedings, Ramesh protested against bringing of government bills on Friday afternoons, which are reserved for private member bills.
He said the government has been purposely bringing important bills on the weekend as there is low attendance.
Countering him, Naqvi said the decision to take up the bill during the day was decided in the morning meeting.