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Government sends biodiversity, mediation bills for scrutiny

Hours after leaders of the five Opposition parties snubbed the government’s belated attempt at resolving the row over the suspension of Rajya Sabha MPs by skipping the meeting with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, the government on Monday referred two bills to parliamentary committees. However, the demand to send the Election Laws (amendment) Bill to a standing committee was ignored.

The Opposition has also demanded that the “Prohibition of Child Marriage (A) Bill” that seeks to increase the legal age for marriage for women from 18 to 21 years be referred to a standing committee. As per informal conversations between Opposition leaders and the government managers, the latter may be favourably inclined to the demand, but there is so far no official word on it.

Despite demands, the government did not send the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that seeks to link voter IDs with Aadhar cards. As with several legislations, the Bill was passed on Monday by Lok Sabha amidst sharp protests from the Opposition.

“The way the Union government rushed through the Election Laws Bill once again shows that they are undemocratic and authoritarian. Despite our demands the Bill was not sent to a parliamentary committee,” Congress whip in Lok Sabha Manickam Tagore said.

The two bills sent for scrutiny are the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill and the Mediation Bill.

The first will allow for foreign investment in research in biodiversity but this investment will necessarily have to be made through Indian companies involved in biodiversity research. The Mediation Bill seeks to promote and facilitate mediation, especially institutional mediation, for resolution of disputes, commercial or otherwise and enforce mediated settlement agreements.

No meeting point

Mr. Joshi on Sunday evening had written to five Opposition parties to which the 12 suspended MPs belong, inviting them for a meeting. However, all five parties — the Congress, TMC, Shiv Sena, CPI and CPI(M) — declined the invitation.

The Opposition also skipped the Business Advisory Committee meeting for Rajya Sabha called by the government at 5 p.m, with information about the meeting sent out at 4:45 p.m., just 15 minutes before the meet.

At a meeting on Monday morning, Opposition leaders decided to carry on with their protest against the suspension of Rajya Sabha MPs till the end of the winter session December 23.

Instead of limiting their protest against the government for the “illegal” suspension of the 12 Rajya Sabha MPs, the Opposition is now also focusing on the ouster of Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’ for his involvement in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident where eight people lost their lives.

As part of the demand for the Minister ouster, on Tuesday the Opposition parties will lead a joint rally from the Gandhi statue, the protest site for the last 20 days, to Vijay Chowk, nearly a kilometre away outside the Parliament.


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Printable version | Jul 1, 2022 6:26:42 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/government-sends-biodiversity-mediation-bills-for-scrutiny/article37998514.ece