From abolition of Article 370, to a new Parliament building, to the suspension of 146 MPs, the 17th Lok Sabha saw it all

The 17th Lok Sabha ended its last session on Saturday with a special discussion on the construction of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya

February 10, 2024 07:16 pm | Updated 09:22 pm IST - New Delhi:

A view of the new and old Parliament House building. File

A view of the new and old Parliament House building. File | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

The 17th Lok Sabha that took off with the removal of special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution ended its last session on Saturday with a special discussion on the construction of the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya.

While both these issues define the core of BJP’s vision for the country, there have been several defining moments in a House dominated by the BJP-led NDA.

Abrogation of Article 370

A long cherished political goal of Jan Sangh ideologue Syama Prasad Mookerjee, the abrogation of the special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution was among the high points of the Modi government 2.0. Its numbers were never a problem in the Lok Sabha to carry through the constitutional amendment. That is why the government’s political managers first focused on getting the required numbers in the Rajya Sabha first.

Also Read: Article 370 Verdict LIVE updates

Women’s quota law

Twenty-seven years after the women’s reservation Bill was first introduced in Parliament, the Lok Sabha on September 20 passed a Bill with near unanimity to amend the Constitution and provide one-third reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies. The Bill was passed in a special session but its implementation is linked to a delimitation exercise that is frozen till 2026.

New home for Parliament

The passage of the landmark women’s reservation law in September 2023 was the first legislative business at the new Parliament building that was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 28.

Amid Vedic chants by priests from Karnataka’s Sringeri Math, the Prime Minister performed “Ganapati Homam” to invoke Gods to bless the inauguration of the new Parliament building and installed the sacred ‘Sengol’ in the Lok Sabha chamber, right next to the Speaker’s chair, after performing puja. Mr. Modi was handed over the ‘Sengol’ by Adheenams from Tamil Nadu before it was installed in the new Parliament building. The ceremony was boycotted by 19 Opposition parties over what they described as violation of protocol as it should have been presided over by the President.

Law to ban Triple Talaq

Among the first laws that the Narendra Modi government brought in its second tenure was the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019. The law not only banned instant triple talaq but also made it a criminal offence.

Functioning under COVID protocols

The Monsoon session in 2020 was the first session that got delayed due to the corona pandemic and was held amid major changes to follow COVID-19 protocols. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha had separate sittings as members were spread across the two chambers to maintain social distancing and all MPs had to come with COVID negative certificates.

Three farm laws

In September 2020, while the COVID protocols were in place, Parliament passed three farm laws amid strong protests from the Opposition. These protests then took the shape of mass protests by farmers’ bodies which marched to Delhi from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The farmers were, however, stopped at Delhi’s borders. The protesters, however, pitched their tents and continued with their protest until the government rolled back the controversial laws in November 2021

New Criminal Code

As part of the BJP’s project to do away with colonial laws, the 17th Lok Sabha witnessed the passage of three laws — the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita Bill, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita Bill and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill — to replace the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Evidence Act. Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the new Bills would free people from a colonial mindset. These laws were passed amid suspension of Opposition MPs.

Record suspension

The outgoing Lok Sabha also created a record of witnessing the maximum number of suspension of Opposition members in a single session. The winter session of Parliament in December 2023 saw as many as 146 MPs (100 from the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha) being suspended from both the Houses of Parliament for bringing placards into the new Parliament building.

Opposition leaders, however, alleged that the suspensions were aimed at preventing them from asking questions to the Home Minister for the security breach.

Reminder of December 13 attack

In a major security breach, on the 22nd anniversary of the terror attack on the Indian Parliament, two men jumped from the visitor’s gallery, into the Lok Sabha chamber. They were carrying canisters that emitted yellow smoke. Amidst the chaos, parliamentarians apprehended the intruders, beating them up before handing them to the security staff. Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla accepted the responsibility for the breach but ruled out a terror incident. But the Opposition stepped up its attack and sought accountability from Home Minister Amit Shah.

Disqualification of Rahul

The 17th Lok Sabha saw the disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi after he was convicted in a defamation case by a Surat court and handed out the maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment. While the ruling party called the disqualification an automatic process under the law, Mr. Gandhi alleged that “an old court case was revived” after his speech in the Lok Sabha linking businessman Gautam Adani with the Prime Minister.

The House also expelled Trinamool Congress member Mahua Moitra after the Ethics Committee found her guilty of “unethical conduct” and contempt of the House by sharing her Lok Sabha credentials — user ID and password of the Lok Sabha Member’s portal — with unauthorised persons.

Ms. Moitra termed her expulsion “hanging by a Kangaroo court” and accused the Ethics Committee of “double standards” by citing the case of BJP MP Ramesh Bhidhuri who was allowed to skip summons even after making a communal slur against Bahujan Samaj Party member Kunwar Danish Ali.

Mr. Bhidhuri had used communal slurs against Mr. Ali during the special session of Parliament in 2023. The matter was referred to the Ethics Committee. Though Mr. Bhidhuri was asked to appear in the matter, he skipped them, citing his preoccupation with Rajasthan elections.

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