Parliament passes Employee’s Compensation Bill

Opposition advocates proportional representation, VVPAT during Rajya Sabha debate on electoral reforms.

March 22, 2017 10:42 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:58 pm IST

Rajya Sabha on Wednesday during the discussion on the employees compensation (amendment) bill.

Rajya Sabha on Wednesday during the discussion on the employees compensation (amendment) bill.

As both Houses reconvene after a productive day on Tuesday, the Lok Sabha continues discussion on the Finance Bill, 2017 and the Rajya Sabha starts discussion on electoral reforms.

Here are the latest updates:

8.37 p.m.: Employee's Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016 passed by voice vote. Clause by clause voting. Tapan Sen’s amendment rejected. Chair declares the Bill passed. Adjourns House till 11 a.m. tomorrow.

8.32 p.m.: Rajeev Gowda raises the question of workplace hazard and wants the Act to cover potential ailments due to the workplace. Tapan Sen says there's no mechanism to catch hold of the contractor. Unless lacunae such as this are not corrected this will not benefit contractual labour. Mr. Kurien takes up the case employees in Kerala, like Tamil working in Kerala, on the language of communication about the assurance of compenastion. Mr. Naidu and Mr. Dattatreya clarify that the bill says about “the language the employee understands”. Chair agrees. 

8.22 p.m.: Minister Bandaru Dattatreya replies. Bill increases penalty from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 50,000 and can be enhanced to Rs. 1 lakh, he says. And on the Rs. 10,000 limit, he points out the earlier amount was Rs. 300 and says the higher limit will be according to Centre's notifications. Govt. serious about worker safety, he says. Coal India compensated all employees, who died or were injured, he says. We are making enforcement stricter, he says.

Responds to Mr. Ramesh: “Yes. Act is applicable to all contractual work. Plus, we have made over 4 crore construction workers as organised workers.”

Concludes with appeal to pass the bill already passed by the LS and says the maximum compensation limit has been raised to nearly Rs. 10 lakh.

8.21 p.m.: Jairam Ramesh of Congress draws attention to outsourced/sub-contracted work. He wants to know from the Minister about the level of contractual labour covered. 

8.17 p.m.: P. Bhattacharya of the Congress also talks about the language of communication. Official language or English will not help the worker, he says. “And what about the informal worker,” he asks while telling the government to take back the bill and come back with fresh provisions including the unorganised worker.

8.11 p.m.: Chair calls D. Raja of CPI with a refrain that there should be at least one bill where he doesn't speak. Minister Venkaiah Naidu intervenes in a lighter vein. “According to our sab ka saath, sab ka vikas motto, we called AITUC (CPI's trade wing) as against a member's refrain that the bill is for Tapan Sen and CPI(M). Why only CITU? Why not AITUC," he says amid peels of laughter. Mr. Raja wants the compensation limit to be raised to Rs. 1 lakh or totally remove it as, he says, even a funeral will cost no less than Rs. 5,000. "How will the government include informal workers? How will Centre give advisory to States on compensation,” he asks.

8.06 p.m.: Vijay Sai Reddy of YSRCP raises and gets praise from Chair for proposing to conclude in 2 minutes. “Very good boy, er, very good honourable member.” Clause 17A should be reworded, he says. Methodology of communication from the employer should also be in writing in addition to electronic means. Chair says it should have come as an amendment. Mr. Reddy says, “I don't want to move an amendment as they all always negated." Chair says it shows his limited experience in the House and “we have passed amendments too”.

8.03 p.m.: Veer Singh of BSP reads out speech pointing out the lacunae in the bill. Seeks employer responsibility to provide proper work gear for unorganised workers. He also brings up case of farm workers, particularly women workers.

8.01 p.m.: Mr. Kurien returns to Chair: “My God! You took 14 minutes Tapan ji ? You took advantage of my absence. But he's a labour leader. So it's OK.”

7.54 p.m.: Tapan Sen of CPI(M) , while welcoming the bill, seeks a strong enforcement mechanism particularly in the case of contractual workers. “You need to put appropriate clauses.” The limit of Rs. 10,000 — up to which there need not be a dispute  — is not making any practical sense as it can be dragged on in court by the employer. “My amendment is please raise the limit to Rs. 1 lakh."

7.39 p.m.: The House takes up employee compensation amendment bill. Rajeev Gowda of the Congress is first one called to speak. “Terrible incentive for employees, no value for life in work like manual scavenging. Same in the case of railway accidents,” he says.

7.38 p.m.: Even the time management went haywire, we had a marathon discussion. I'm happy, says Chair.

7.31 p.m.: Rajani Patil of Congress questions whether elections are being conducted free and fair in the 66th year of the EC. She says M-factor - Money, Muscle and now Media - controls polls. When somebody says Mahila power?, she retorts: “You guys are not giving that. We will achieve only if we take to streets”. She's not very charitable to the media who's doing the politicians’ service. EC should be above doubt, she says. Amid repeated remainders from Chair she puts forward case for VVPAT.

7.27 p.m.: D.P. Tripathi of the NCP praises Mizoram for holding free and fair polls where money power cannot sway voters. Says this while pressing his point that no reform is possible until party system is not set right.

7.17 p.m.: T.K.S. Elangovan of the DMK says electoral reform doesn't mean amendments to the present law but a whole new law. Cites Tamil Nadu Assembly polls 2016 where vote share difference between DMK and AIADMK was just 1% but the seat difference was over 30. Mr. Elangovan says proportional representation will reduce expenditure and control money power.

“In T.N., during 2016 polls, when only 30% of results were announced and DMK and AIADMK were equally poised, Honourable PM called up Jayalalithaa at about 11 a.m. and congratulated her on poll win. It seems the EVMs heard the Prime Minister’s voice and made AIADMK win,” he says. Loud protest. Mr. Elangovan says he can prove and he has video evidence.

7.12 p.m.: Biswajit Daimary  of Bodoland People's Front, drawing examples of extremists in his State of Assam, says there should be reform on background of candidates. He wants to set a minimum educational qualification for new candidates in future elections.

7 p.m.: Vinay Sahasrabuddhe of BJP : “I expected a productive debate. But after listening to it a saying has come to my mind. Naach na jaane aangan tedha  ( Knows no dance, claims the stage is tilted) .” He tells the Opposition, which cannot win polls, is now putting the blame on EVMs.

In response to Mr. Yechuri’s idea of proportional representation he asks: “Have you ever won more than 50%? When others get a similar mandate, you cast aspersions?" 

Vajpayee government was the one which took the first concrete steps towards electorao reforms when it capped the number of Ministers, he says.

6.50 p.m.: Pramod Tiwari of the Congress: When VVPAT is used with EVMs, your tally goes down. “If everything was ok, what's the need to roam around Benares for three days," he asks the Treasury benches alluding to Mr. Modi’s three-day roadshow in Varanasi. Protest from Treasury. “This means there was conspiracy,” Mr. Tiwari says. Protests again.

“Big democracies use ballot papers. Or wherever EVMs are used there's paper trail. Ireland has reverted to papers.”

He concludes: “This is not the win of the BJP. But that of EVM tampering.”

6.45 p.m.: Shiv Sena’s Anil Desai wants a neutral third party to conduct opinion/exit polls to avoid charges of manipulation.

6.40 p.m.: Mr. Naqvi, during his intervention, says why the question is put on EVMs as both the BSP and SP have won polls which used EVMs.

6.30 p.m.: Rajiv Shukla of the Congress says opinion polls should be banned. But he’s ok with exit polls, which according to him don't sway the voters. He also wants a cap on party and not on individual for electoral spending.

6.04 p.m.: Mr. Raja also advocates proportional representation system. “Most countries have adopted this system,” he says. Proportional representation will also ensure women's reservation, he says. On NRI voting rights, what is the arrangement the government is making, Mr. Raja asks. “30% of our population are migrants. What is the arrangement for migrant workers to vote?”

He says simultaneous elections are not feasible, he says.

If you believe in action, you should move towrads state funding of polls, he says. “Media should not be used to undermine our electoral systems.”

“Govt. should form a panel on EVMs,” he concludes after repeated remainders from the Chair.

6.03 p.m.: After Zero Hour, Lok Sabha adjourns till 11 a.m. tomorrow.

6.01 p.m.: D. Raja of CPI is called to speak. "We are debating this poll reforms when democracy is at risk,” he says.

5.55 p.m.: Vocal requests from Opposition to continue the discussion tomorrow. Govt. does not want this to come in papers tomorrow, the Opposition says. Mr. Kurien is giving his ruling saying “I remember the Opposition saying they were ready to sit till midnight.”

Naresh Chandra Agrawal of Congress says we can change our decision according to the atmosphere.

Chair decides: “We will finish the debate at 7 p.m. and pass bill by 8 p.m.”

5.47 p.m.: Mr. Reddy seeks more time drawing the sense of the discussion. “It's for the benefit of poor, downtrodden and numerical minorities. Our party is a numerical minority here,” he says. Mr. Reddy supports linking Aadhaar card with EPIC.

5.44 p.m.: In Rajya Sabha, V. Vijasai Reddy of YSRCP is speaking. Makes an appeal to bring House in order.

5.41 p.m.: Lok Sabha passes Finance Bill 2017. Matters of urgent public importance (Zero Hour) being memntioned.

5.26 p.m.: In the Rajya Sabha, Vandana Chavan of NCP is speaking. Party leader Praful Patel says why not we decide no to go ahead with VVPAT. Ms. Chavan expresses surprise why the govt. is not implementing VVPAT. Ms. Chavan asks Chair to bring order in House. "I know you are senior members. Please give chance to junior members and women to speak," Ms. Chavan says. Chair has to tell Mr. Patel, "Your party member is speaking."

Ms. Chavan brings out examples about “EVM manipulation” to press her point that “something is going on in EVMs”.

She says in Pune, in every one of the 41 wards in Pune, number of votes polled and number of votes counted did not tally. “This is not only tampering, it's also EVMs is not working. Are we going to use these EVMs?”

Ms. Chavan continues to speak amidst protests, doling out examples from Pune. She receives applause from a wide section of MPs.

5.23 p.m.: Finance Bill is being passed in the Lok Sabha. Amendments are being moved clause by clause. Prime Minister is present.

5.21 p.m.: Back in RS, Mr. Javadekar wants the parties, to accept the people’s verdict.

5.19 p.m.: Meanwhile in Lok Sabha, BJD walks out expressing dissatisfaction over the Finance Minister’s reply to the discussion on Finance Bill. 

5.15 p.m.: HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar makes an intervention. Points to 1% increase of votes for BSP over last election.

5.14 p.m.: A member says Mr. Misra’s use of word “bogus” be expunged, Mr. Misra retorts saying “You suggest a better word.”

5.02 p.m.: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Lok Sabha: Govt. to bring a bill to amend Excise and Customs Act, along with four bills on GST.

4.37 p.m.: BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra. It’s interesting to listen to the BSP perspective on proportional representation as they weer at the receiving end of the first-past-the-post system in the recent as well as 2014 polls.

He also talks about anti-defection law. “What is the point of disqualification if the decision comes two months before next polls?

"If somebody defects then he should leave the post and fight electons afresh.”

Talks about money power in U.P. campaign and invites loud protests from Treasury. “Media was with you. We were fighting media long with parties.

Takes on opinion polls. “How do you know the 300 plus number? Because you know how many EVMs have been fixed.”

Loud protests from Treasury benches.

I am not yielding, Mr. Misra says.

Shows a book Democracy at risk by BJP spokesperson G.V.L. Narasimha Rao. "If you read this book by one of your own, nobody can believe in EVMs. L.K. Advani has written in this book.”

Lists countries including Germany and Ireland who scarpped EVMs.

“Hacking can be done through sattelitte. Look at our voting in this House. Problems arise during voting and we are forced to vote through ballot paper.

"Even there is 1% chance of hacking then the right dies.. the right mentioned in the Preamble written by Dr. Ambedkar.”

He quotes the Supreme Court that freedom of expression of voters includes casting of vote.

“The very act of amending Article 19A to use EVMs is ultra vires. We have done this mistake,” he says and goes on to quote electoral law.

Mr. Misra forcefully puts forward a charge against the BJP and says “people” are feeling cheated. “Hacking is being done,” he says.

“When we are speaking for the voters, you guys were roaming with hackers,” he charges amid protests from Treasury.

“If you are honest come to the battle of elections again,” he says.

“If you haven't hacked the EVMs, why did you violate the SC guidelines. We didn’t take the issue to court. Your side did. Dr. Subramanian Swamy did.”

Quotes from SC verdict that VVPAT is indispensable requirement for free and fair elections.

From the verdict quoted by Mr. Misra:

“29) From the materials placed by both the sides, we are satisfied that the “paper trail” is an indispensable requirement of free and fair elections. The confidence of the voters in the EVMs can be achieved only with the introduction of the “paper trail”. EVMs with VVPAT system ensure the accuracy of the voting system. With an intent to have fullest transparency in the system and to restore the confidence of the voters, it is necessary to set up EVMs with VVPAT system because vote is nothing but an act of expression which has immense importance in democratic system.

“30) In the light of the above discussion and taking notice of the pragmatic and reasonable approach of the ECI and considering the fact that in general elections all over India, the ECI has to handle one million (ten lakhs) polling booths, we permit the ECI to introduce the same in gradual stages or geographical-wise in the ensuing general elections. The area, State or actual booth(s) are to be decided by the ECI and the ECI is free to implement the same in a phased 18 Page 19 manner. We appreciate the efforts and good gesture made by the ECI in introducing the same.

“31) For implementation of such a system (VVPAT) in a phased manner, the Government of India is directed to provide required financial assistance for procurement of units of VVPAT.

“32) Before parting with the case, we record our appreciation for the efforts made by Dr. Subramanian Swamy as well as the ECI, in particular Mr. Ashok Desai and Ms. Meenakshi Arora, learned senior counsel for the ECI. ”

“Since there's no transparency about the make and setup of EVMs we should not hold elections without VVPAT,” he says and tells the Treasury benches to than machines for the win and keep praying at them for future wins.

There were only 20 seats where VVPAT has been used and therefore this election is vitiated and managed. And you will go on to manage polls from Gujarat to the next LS polls, he says. Protest from Treasury benches. Remainder to conclude from Chair.

Mr. Misra says till VVPAT is implemented, we should have ballot papers.

4.05 p.m.: Sitaram Yechury (CPI(M) rises to speak. Points to the state of media and the Chair says Mr. Yadav has made important suggestions on the state of the media. "But that warrants another discussion,” Chair says.

This comes after Minister Ravishankar Prasad asks when can he respond. “See how I'm failing to control time,” Mr. Kurien says. 

Anand Sharma of Congress says the House should have a separate discussion on the subject.

Mr. Yechury talks about the need to save democracy from distortion. Touches on political funding. Rs. 2,000 cap on funding and electoral bond is a mockery of electoral reforms, he says adding it opens new ways of distortion.

"Unless a ceiling is put on electoral spending money power in elections cannot be controlled.”

Seeks Indrajit Gupta panel recommendation on state funding of polls. "It is not giving money to political parties. It's giving resources in kind.”

Money power at play saw its peak during the recent elections, says Mr. Yechury, Surprisingly there was no protest from Treasury.

He moves on to the partial proportional representation system. “No party has go more than 50% of the votes,” he says. To buttress his point he says BJP got only about 31% in the last polls.

Every voter will have two votes — one for the individual and one for the party, he says explaining partial proportional representation system. 

Mr. Yechury also advocates the need for women’s reservation. He says partial proportional representation system automatically ensures such reservation.

"We have spoken about paid news in this House. Nothing has come out of it. First treat paid news as advertisement and charge the party. Penalise them,” he says.

“Then comes the cross-holding of the media. We have to ban cross-holding, yes. But ahat about social media?

“Despite our best advise to our journalist friends against moving to contract from a salary, they did. They are suffering now as Sharad ji  pointed out.

“The current state of the media is worse than during Emergency,” he says.

“I move on to EVMs,” he says shows a clip from his phone about Mr. Advani at a programme on the risk of EVMs.

“EC is a Constitution authority. It doesn't deal with the executive. Nasim Zaidi writes to PM, head of executive for funds. Unprecedented.”

“Why are we not doing the VVPAT. This is creating problems,” Mr. Yechury says.

Moves on to simultaneous elections. He asks government you can't have simultaneous polls if you don't remove article 356, he says.

“They are saying, in 2019 we will dissolve Assemblies in our States to hold simultaneous elections. This is a back door method to bring in presidential form of government.

KASAB mention, kabaristan, Eid and Diwali mentions amount to appealing for votes on communal grounds, he says.

Concludes with an appeal to establish a system to seriously implement electoral reforms.

3.45 p.m.: Rajya Sabha

JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav is speaking during the debate. Mr. Yadav expresses surprise at BSP chief Mayawati raising her voice against use of EVMs. “From L.K. Advani to Chandrababu Naidu, everybody fought for EVMs and VVPAT. But only Mayawati ji is saying ‘machine defeated me’.”

Mr. Yadav takes up the case of journalists, expresses regret at the trend of ‘hire-and-fire’ in media. Media owners decide on what to write and what not, he says adding cross-ownership in media should be banned. Only when cross-holding is banned, journalists can do their job properly, he says.

The JD(U) leader contends that there is an emergency in media and reforms are the only way to ensure freedom of press.

“When I lose polls, I also think sometimes that I lost because of booth-capturing. But despite that the country has faith in the Election Commission,” he says and concludes, of course after repeated reminders, with a call to implement the Majithia panel recommendations for journalists.

 

2.00 p.m.: Lok Sabha

AIUDF MP Badruddin Ajmal talks about cashless transactions. When a common man buys something with a card, he is being taxed or charged extra. Railway tickets are prised higher now and is just like air fares.

Rajasthan BJP MP Subhash Chandra Baheria says there is unnecessary burden on common tax payers. We need clear information on cash withdrawals and other transactions.

RJD MP from Bihar Jay Prakash Narayan: OBC, SC/ST students do not get placed. Bihar hasn't got a special package after Jharkhand split.

2.00 p.m.: Rajya Sabha

Deputy Chairman Kurien starts discussion on electoral reforms, says "Even if we start late, we will pass one Bill after discussion."

Mukul Roy, AITC, West Bengal: There is a lot of room left to improve. The Election Commission of India has always been proactive. It has made a number of recommendations. EVMs have reduced malpractices.

There is no regulation in EC's functioning. If any grievance arises, there is no mechanism to address. We need more transparency in the system.

1.30 p.m.: Lok Sabha

Karnataka BJP MP Shivakumar Udaasi: The Indian economy was following communism. Then, in the name of reform, there came privatisation and globalisation. In the last two decades, the state of Gujarat became vibrant Gujarat. Everywhere there is a lot of 'de-globalisation' is happening.

We have the capacity to organise capitalism, the market is a human creation. It is based on the rules that human beings devise the central position of who rules what. The coming challenge is for the democracy.

INC MP from Bihar Ranjeet Ranjan talks about the inconsistencies in providing compensation to Anganwadi workers. "Even farmers do not get good seeds. We need two Kisan Vikas Kendras in every district. Regarding children, after sports activities they are given kurkure and biscuits. How is that enough?"

BJP MP Abhishek Singh talks about Finance Bill and Appropriation Bill.

1.00 p.m.: Lok Sabha

Jharkand BJP MP Nishikant Dubey talks about Finance Bill: World Bank ranking of our country is also up. Congress wants an answer on GDP whereas the entire world has accepted our growth.

Congress spokespersons haven't studied in India, so they do not know about India's growth. Finance Mininster said that IRS will be made more accountable to stop tax terrorism.

Bhartruhari Mahtab to Nishikant Dubey: If you're saying PAN is wrong and AADHAAR is better, replace PAN with AADHAAR."

INC West Bengal MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury: BJP is running under the same path that Congress has made. BJP following a disruptive policy, while Congress was pursuing adaptive policy. AADHAAR should be optional and voluntary. Don't impose on the common men.

1.00 p.m.: Rajya Sabha

BJP MP Rangasayee Ramakrishnan asks about disaster preparedness.

Kiren Rijiju, MoS Home Affairs: At the time of a disaster, everyone is prepared. Resilience at the local level has to be strengthened. We have taken all precautionary measures, and India has been recognised at a global level in terms of disaster preparedness.

Question Hour comes to an end. House adjourned till 2 p.m.

12.30 p.m.: Lok Sabha

Shiv Sena MP Krupal Tumane says farmers' lands are being taken away. "They are being told that they will be given compensation and jobs, but they are given jobs only after a few years, and sometimes even the jobs are being taken away. Recently some farmers were accused and sent to jail."

BJD MP Baijayant Jai Panda talks about shutdowns of mobile and Internet services. "With the growing emphasis on digital economy, the union govt must notify in case of emergency and security. There is no clarity in mobile connectivity services. Even if Sec 144 is imposed, people should be able to live normally."

INC MP K.V. Thomas says that SC has clearly instructed about AADHAAR, but it is being linked to midday meals. This will lead to dropouts from schools.

West Bengal MP Aparupa Poddar says, Insurance facilities aren't available for jute farmers. Jute crops should be provided with free insurance and welfare funds should be alloted to jute farmers.

INC MP K.C. Venugopal says fresh drinking water has become a luxury. Govt should have a project to fill our homes and canals with water.

12.30 p.m.: Rajya Sabha

With regard to security of railway tracks and railway passengers, Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh says "Govt takes responsibility for people's security. If there is any terrorist activity, we inform the NIA and they take care of it."

Rajnath Singh on surgical strikes: Many steps and schemes have been taken to normalise the situation in J&K. Armed police forces selection is also over. Job opportunities for Kashmir's youth has been increased.

Sitaram Yechury talks about trust deficit growing in the Kashmir Valley. "Opening of a political dialogue with all stakeholders is necessary. Mere law and order approach won't help."

Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh says, "When there was unrest, I went to Kashmir valley thrice. I have spoken each time. India wants Kashmir situation to improve. We have taken every initiative."

12 noon: Lok Sabha

Papers are laid on the table.

All motions of adjournment are disallowed. Zero Hour begins.

Arunachal Pradesh MP Ninong Ering talks about Internet connectivity in northeast. "Cashless economy and e-governance can't be expected with this. When parties have got contracts for the laying of fibre optic cables, it is not being done."

Odisha MP Bhartruhari Mahtab requests government to bring urban amenities, and develop infrastructure in towns.

12 noon: Rajya Sabha

Question Hour begins. Mr. Ansari is in the Chair.

Kiren Rijiju, MoS Home Affairs answers a question on surrender and rehabilitation policy for NER. He says the current policy is successful in rehabilitating militants.

MoS Hansraj Ahir talks about regional railway officers being given a manual to be alert. 202 stations are recognised as sensitive.

11.30 a.m.: Lok Sabha

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in the House.

Mohammad Salim of the CPI(M) asks for on-camera proceedings of court cases. Mr. Prasad says there are more than 19,000 district courts in India apart from High Courts and Supreme Court. "There is a logistical issue here in setting up cameras everywhere."

K.H. Muniyappa of the Congress asks if the Parliament is supreme or the judiciary is supreme, with regard to NJAC. The Minister agrees that the Parliament's decision on NJAC needs to have been taken up.

Mr. Prasad says that uncalled-for government litigation needs to be reduced.

Narasimham Thota asks questions on the government's judiciary plans for Andhra Pradesh. The Minister says that the establishment of AP High Court will take place as new infrastructure for the High Court comes up.

Kalyan Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress says the Parliament has the power to legislate, but the final constitutional power rests with the Supreme Court.

MoS Jitendra Singh answers a question on the third stage of the nuclear power programme.

11.30 a.m.: Rajya Sabha

C.P. Narayanan of the CPI(M) asks for fast-track courts to clear cases of child abuse. Shamsher Singh Manhas of the BJP speaks about a ditch being planned in Jammu and Kashmir that will displace over 100 families.

Sanjay Sinh of the Congress says Madrasas are not receiving enough financial aid in Uttar Pradesh. Sanjay Seth of the SP says that companies have access to people's data and this leads to spam.

Chunnibhai Gohel of the BJP brings up the issue of fishermen being forced to trawl past nine nautical miles. Chhaya Verma of the Congress speaks about Adivasis in Chhattisgarh being harassed by the local authorities.

Vivek Tankha of the Congress raises the issue of MMR and IMR in Madhya Pradesh being higher than the national average. L. Ganesan of the BJP wants Havelock island in Andaman and Nicobar islands renamed.

Special Mentions are laid on the table.

11.00 a.m.: Lok Sabha

House reconvenes. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is in the Chair.

Question Hour begins.

The first question is asked by Chintamani Malviya of the BJP on paperless VIP quota in trains. Minister says the government is working on it and a note has been sent to the Parliament Secretariat.

"The proposal on unique identity to be acted upon as soon as we get a go ahead. Under this, if an MP wants to cancel his/her ticket, they will be able to do so. Additionally, we have started a service, not just for MPs but all citizens, wherein TTE can confirm tickets for wait-listed passengers using a handheld device even after the train has left the station."

"From April 1 we will also start a service wherein wait-listed passengers can be accommodated in another train going to the same destination. If seats are available in Rajdhani trains, passengers will be given confirmed seats at no additional cost," says Suresh Prabhu.

The next question is on Railway projects on Cost Sharing Basis. Mr. Prabhu says the government believes in cooperative federalism and that state governments must participate.

On tatkal booking, Mr. Prabhu says there are touts that misuse the system. "We want to introduce a system similar to KYC in banks to avoid this. I have directed IRCTC to see how Aadhaar can be used for deciding who is registered genuine user using IRCTC facility. With Aadhaar-based KYC we will be able to ensure that only genuine passengers will be able to book tickets and these types of touts will not be able to do it."

The next question is on speedy disposal of cases asked by Sanjay Jaiswal.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Law Minister responds that the Prime Minister has written to CMs asking the states to set up fast-track courts.

11.00 a.m.: Rajya Sabha

House reconvenes. Chairman Hamid Ansari takes the Chair. He makes a statement on World Water Day.

Papers are laid on the table.

Digvijaya Singh brings up the Goa and Manipur government formation issue. Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien is in the Chair. Mr. Kurien says the Chair will take it up. Jairam Ramesh says a discussion on Aadhaar was requested, and Chair says they will look into it.

Zero Hour begins.

Ritabrata Banerjee of the CPI(M) brings up the issue of scheduled languages in civil service examinations.

Harivansh of the JD(U) raises the issue of shell companies being used to launder money.

P. Bhattacharya of the Congress says TV serials contribute to an increase in crime rates. He says there must be some sort of control over the content.

10.45 a.m.: Listed business for the day

Rajya Sabha

- The Employee's Compensation (Amendment) Bill, 2016 - The Appropriation (Railways) Bill, 2017 (for consideration and return) - The Appropriation (Railways) No. 2 Bill, 2017 (for consideration and return) - The Appropriation Bill, 2017 (for consideration and return) - The Appropriation (No. 2) Bill, 2017 (for consideration and return) - Discussion on the Union Budget 2017-18 - Discussion on the working of the Ministry of Railways - Discussion on the working of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions - Discussion on the working of the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises - Discussion on the working of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting - Short duration discussion on electoral reforms - Clarifications on statements by Ministers

Lok Sabha

- The Finance Bill, 2017 - The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2017

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