Educational Tribunal Bill deferred; torture Bill for panel

The UPA Government on Tuesday was forced to retreat on three key Bills in the Rajya Sabha. All the three Bills have been passed by the Lok Sabha.

On the last day of proceedings of an extended session, the government had to defer the Educational Tribunal Bill and refer the Prevention of Torture Bill and Wakf (Amendment) Bill to Select Committees.

Vociferous protests

While the Bill to bring reform in the education sector came under attack from members across the political spectrum, the demand to defer its passage came after the Members of Parliament took exception to a remark by Human Resource Minister Kapil Sibal's reply.

Members of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Bahujan Samaj Party raised an uproar following Mr. Sibal's observation that he was ready to ‘bow down' if there were any “substance” in suggestions.

This triggered vociferous protests that stalled the process and the Minister said he offered apology if his remarks had cast aspersions on any member. The MPs had earlier criticised the manner in which the Bill was being rushed through and not taking into account recommendations of the Standing Committee.

“Considering the sentiments of honourable members of this House, I request that the consideration of the bill be deferred to the next session,” Mr. Sibal said.

“No infringement”

During his reply, the Minister said the apprehension expressed by members that the bill would infringe on the rights of the States was not correct. The bill had received support from States of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala, where parties other than Congress are in government.

Senior Congress leader K. Keshava Rao not only objected to the hurried manner in which the bill was sought to be brought but also for not taking into consideration the recommendations of the Standing Committee.

Resolution moved

After days of tussle over the Prevention of Torture Bill, Home Minister P. Chidambaram moved a resolution to refer it to a Select Committee.

The Committee, which includes Ashwani Kumar, E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, S. S. Ahluwalia, Brinda Karat, Kalraj Misra among others, has been asked to give its report on the last day of the first week of the next session of Parliament. Ms. Karat has been championing the move for such a referral following serious objections to provisions in the proposed legislation.

Wakf Bill

Minister of Minority Affairs Salman Khursheed moved another resolution to refer the Wakf (Amendment) Bill to another Select Committee. The bill seeks to strengthen and improve the management and administration of wakfs. The Committee, which includes Saiffudin Soz, Raashid Alvi, Prakash Javdekar, Mohammed Amin, Pravez Hasmi and Prabha Thakur, has been asked to present its report in six weeks.

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