The all-party meet, which was convened by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, has decided to pass 6 pending legislations in the Upper House in the last three days of the Winter Session. There was also consensus among all parties to discuss 3 other important bills and subsequently decide on how to act on them. But no consensus was reached on the all-important Goods and Services Tax (GST) Constitutional Amendment Bill.
The pending bills which will be passed are SC ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, Appropriation Bills, Anti-Hijacking Bill, Atomic Energy Amendment Bill, Commercial Courts Ordinance and Arbitration & Conciliation Amendment Bill. The important bills on which discussion will be held are Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, Whistle Blowers Protection Amendment Bill and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill.
The hour-long all-party meet also decided that there will be a discussion on matters of public importance like price rise, impact of flood and drought on agriculture, intolerance and substantive motion against Governor. To pass these bills and hold discussions, the members of the Upper House also agreed to work extra hours in the coming week.
“There has been a very meaningful discussion in the meeting. A number of parties have expressed concern over Parliament not functioning. All of them decided that the House should function. It has been decided to pass the pending government bills even by sitting for late hours,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told reporters after the meeting.
On being asked about GST, Naqvi said,”But, I don’t think the main opposition party has an agreement on this. They have not cleared their position.”
The Leader of the Congress in the Upper House, Ghulam Nabi Azad played down the meeting by saiying, “nothing new was discussed at this meeting apart from what was discussed at the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting.” But Azad confirmed that there was no decision on GST.
The crucial all-party meet was called by Hamid Ansari to break the ongoing logjam. The House had not been able to transact much business this entire session as it witnessed continuous disruptions from Opposition parties, especially the Congress, over a host of issues like VK Singh controversy, Kumari Selja’s claims of discrimination, Punjab law and order situation, atrocities on Dalits, National Herald and the issue of Arunachal Governor being the latest one. A number of legislative bills remained pending as the House was not allowed to function. Chairman of the House Hamid Ansari had repeatedly voiced his anguish over the frequent disruptions in the light of the pending legislations.
On Friday morning, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu urged the Chair to take action against those ministers who were frequently disrupting the House.
“Government is ready to extend any cooperation but if somebody is bent upon disrupting and if they do it on a regular basis, the Chair has to take necessary action,” an exasperated Naidu said.
“The Chair knows its responsibility and its rights also…”We have seen it umpteen times. How the Women’s Reservation Bill was passed in Rajya Sabha. How the Telangana creation bill was passed in Rajya Sabha. The entire country has seen that,” Naidu said while recalling the time when the Chair had resorted to the use of marshals to evict the protesting members.
On being asked if such measures were required again, Naidu had said that the country needed measures to preserve its democracy.
“The President also said that discuss, debate and then decide. Do not disrupt. He has been saying it continuously. The Chair also has been saying this. But the point is that there has to be somewhere the Chair has to act…If they say we are not allowing this House to function. Then it is bringing bad name to democracy, the country,” the Parliamentary Affairs Minister had said.
(With inputs from PTI)