LS passes the Mental Healthcare Bill, both Houses adjourned

Rajya Sabha will continue the discussion on the Finance Bill on March 28.

March 27, 2017 11:08 am | Updated 06:15 pm IST

SP MP Naresh Agrawal speaking during a debate on Finance Bill in Rajya Sabha on Monday.

SP MP Naresh Agrawal speaking during a debate on Finance Bill in Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Parliamentarians re-assembled in both Houses for the second lap of Budget Session after the weekend. While the Rajya Sabha was forced to adjourn thrice, the Lok Sabha conducted a smooth first session as per schedule.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced Bills pertaining to implementation of the Goods and Services Tax in the lower House.

The Rajya Sabha took up the Finance Bill post-lunch, where only a discussion is possible since it is a Money Bill and the Elders cannot vote in it. Lok Sabha passed the Mental Healthcare Bill.

Here are the live updates:

6.10 p.m: Lok Sabha passes the Mental Healthcare Bill. House adjourned till 11.00 am on March 28.

6.00 p.m: Rajya Sabha

Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, P.J. Kurien instructs the MPs to wind up.

"Most of the parties have exhausted their time to debate the Finance Bill. We will resume the discussion on March 28 at 2 pm. Reply by the honourable minister in any case by 3.30 pm."

RS erupts into protests at this but Mr. Kurien is firm. "Names I already have can only speak tomorrow. No new names will be added. This has been decided," he says.

Rajya Sabha adjourned till 11.00 am on March 28.

6.00 p.m: Lok Sabha

Speaker moves motion for consideration of the Bill and the 'ayes' have it. The motion for consideration of the Bill is adopted. Now, House to consider the Bill clause by clause.

5.30 p.m.: Lok Sabha

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Jagat Prakash Nadda jokes: "I hope all of us here are in good mental health. But should any of us sense deterioration we can nominate beforehand."

He adds that all changes in the Mental Healthcare Bill suggested by the RS and Standing Committee were accepted. "The Bill empowers the individual with legal rights to demand treatment for mental illness from the State. It also decriminalises suicide and recognises caretakers. It curtails and punishes inhuman treatment or imprisonment of PMI."

He adds that he is glad that all MPs had only suggested steps to further initiatives and nothing against any clause of the Bill. "All noted," he says.

Thank you for being with us for this Bill," he says.

5.30 p.m.: D. Raja, CPI MP from Tamil Nadu has some severe words to say about the Finance Bill in the Rajya Sabha. He argues that the passing of the Finance Bill in Lok Sabha as it was done was a "dangerous development".

"When I look at the history of other countries where facism emerged, Parliament was present but it was made reduntant, their powers curtailed. Today it can happen to the RS, tomorrow it can happen to the LS also. It is a very dangerous development. The House, the people of the country should take note. Where are we heading to? This concerns future of India, of democracy, of the republic." 

He points out the amendments made in taxation. "When I look at these proposals, I would like to ask - this govt said it is ' sabka saath sabka vikas '. But no, it is actually 'corporate ka saath, corporate ka vikas'.

"The RS should have a position and tell the government that parliament cannot be treated like this."

He also brings up the topic of Tamil Nadu farmers protesting in New Delhi.

"What has the govt has done for farmers? You want to give concessions to corporate houses and willing to write off NPAs but when it comes to farmers and the poor, you don't have any concern. This is what we should be discussing. Today I have farmers agitating at Jantar Mantar. They are saying they are dying. For whom does this finance bill matter, if not the people? The government doesn't want to name defaulters on the floor of the house, but wants to give concessions to corporates."

"Democracy cannot survive, the Constitution, the Republic cannot survive like this. I appeal to the government, think about what you are doing. Parties may come and go, but nation will have to remain. The republic will have to survive."

"Where is the fraternity in the country? In the name of beef, muslims and dalits are being massacred."

The Upper House has an obligation to tell the govt that govt cannot take this route to get this Bill approved and has to have some concern for our democracy."

5.00 p.m.: Lok Sabha debates the Mental Healthcare Bill. AITC MP from Bardhaman-Durgapur, WB, Sanghamitra Mamtaz speaks at length about the Bill. "Medical education is sadly lacking in psychological arm," she says.

An MP gives out a number of issues that the Bill needs to address or add.

 - Check up by psychiatists for each child at school level needs to be made compulsory and a mental health card to be maintained. This will help detect mental health status of children so timely medical help can be given.

- Parents of child and relatives need to be given training.

- Dementia must be included in Bill while framing rules.

- An authority of mental health must oversee treatment and follow guidelines. Said Authority must be accountable to the ministry.

- One mental hospital in each state should be identified by the govt and attached to AIIMS for counselling and control.

4:30 pm: Why don't you bring a Bill to make Aadhaar compulsory? Why do you want to bring it through Aadhaar. Aadhaar is bringing surveillance State, says Mr. Yechury.

The government will decide who will be a citizen and who is not. You are creating a totalitarian state.

Mr. Yechury is comparing Aadhaar with English movie Matrix. He mentions another classic movies, Enemy of the State. I thought it was science fiction. This government is turning it to a reality, he says.

4:20 pm: Sitaram Yechury calls the Bill a "Financial bully." 128 amendments, with 60 included as miscellaneous. They belong to other departments.

All of us (in Rajya Sabha) are irrelevant after the Bill is passed. The Bill is reviving Inspector Raj in worst form.

Undermining the parliamentary democracy in this country is a fascist tendency.

Time has come to revisit the rule that gives Speaker of Lok Sabha to decide if a Bill is money Bill.

4:10 pm: Is this a Finance Bill? You are amending I-T Act, merging tribunals, bringing new clauses. And you are calling it a Finance Bill, mocks Mr. Roy.

4:00 pm: Sukendu Shekar Roy (Trinamool) speaks during a debate on Finance Bill. He terms the amendment that gives sweeping powers to I-T authorities to raid anyone  as "draconian".

Some of your amendments are with retrospective effect since 1962. You have performed a bypass surgery on legislature, he says.

3:55 pm: Badruddin Ajmal (AIUDF) speaks in favour of Mental Healthcare Bill. He lauds Mr. Nadda, Health Minister, for bringing the Bill. Mr. Ajmal says the number of mental healthcare nurses and physiotherapists are abysmally low. 

India spends 0.06% of budget in mental healthcare. Even Bangladesh spends more, he says.

3:50 pm: Naresh Agrawal is moved out from Finance Bill to Uttar Pradesh politics. He is speaking on a 'monk' becoming a Chief Minister, why not a 'purohit' as Mayor? He ridicules anti-Romeo squad. He accuses the BJP of conniving with media.... and he is back to Finance Bill! "Why didn't you bring anything for media?"

3:45 pm: Naresh Agrawal is speaking in Rajya Sabha. "You have brought 40 amendments to Finance Bills. They were not suggested by the Opposition. I thought there was difference between the Prime Minister and Finance Minister. Why couldn't you mention it in Budget speech itself?"  

3:40 pm: Idris Ali, Trinamool, says over 6 crore people in the nation are suffering from depression and mental anxiety. This is a spike of 5 per cent from last year.

3:30 pm: An healthy trend of Lok Sabha allowing its members to speak in languages other than Hindi and English. P.K. Sreemathy spoke in Malayalam and Sher Singh Ghubaya speaks in Punjabi.

3:20 pm: Konda Vishveshwara Reddy (TRS) says mental disorder and behavioural disroders should be codified to avoid misuse/

Supriya Sule (NCP) applauds the Health Ministry for taking suggestions from all quarters to bring up the Bill.

Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) says this is probably the only Bill with maximum amendments. The Ministry has accepted all of them.

Ratna De Nag (Trinamool) finds holes in the Mental Health Board. The clauses may delay the treatment, she says.

Dr. Gavit (BJP): Paramedical staff has no designated council or body which regulates and governs them. There could be legal issues arising.

3:00 pm: Rajya Sabha is continuing its discussion on Finance Bill. The Lok Sabha is discussing Mental Healthcare Bill.

Salient features of the Bill are:

Suicide is decriminalised.

Electro-convulsive therapy will be conducted only under anaesthesia.

A person with mental-illness has right to lead the life with dignity.

Chaining, use of force, discrimination are considered illegal.

A person with mental illness can make an advance directive that states how he/she wants to be treated.

2:45 pm: Kapil Sibal trains his guns on Aadhaar now. He recalls how the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi remarked the UPA didn't have a vision when Aadhaar was introduced. Now, you are using Aadhaar for PDS, LPG subsidy. The Supreme Court has repeatedly said Aadhaar should not be made mandatory. "Why are you going against it?"

2:30 pm: The government is saying only 3.17 crore people are paying taxes. It doesn't mean, they are dishonest. It means they are not earning enough to pay taxes, says the former minister.

You want to merge tribunals. Don't you want the parliament to discuss it? Shouldn't it be a separate Bill? he asks.

2:20 pm: Political funding should be done through amending the Companies Act and not by amending a Finance Bill. This is back-door entry, says Mr. Sibal.

The Bill says a any donation beyond Rs.2000 to a political party should be disclosed. This is electoral reform. Why is it mentioned in Finance Bill?, he asks.

2:10 pm: Finance Bill is taken up in Rajya Sabha.

Congress member Kapil Sibal points out six ways the Finance Bill is flawed.

The bill is favouring crony capitalism.

Why lift cap on political funding?

The government is muffling with the voice of Rajya Sabha.

There is a fear of bureaucracy with taxmen getting sweeping powers.

There are ample ways to encourage snooping on private lives through the Bill.

Dismantling the existing traditions in the constitution.

2:00 pm: Lok Sabha reconvenes. Debate on Mental Healthcare Bill gets underway. Heena Gavit speaks. There are only about 4000 psychiatrists in this country, says Dr. Gavit pointing out the paucity of human resource in the field.

2:00 pm: Rajya Sabha reconvenes. Naresh Agrawal raises Point of Order on Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu continuing his television show, despite being a minister. Mr. Agrawal points out the conflict of interest.

Honorable Finance Minister is a lawyer. What if he goes to court and then says that he's not Minister but a lawyer, and also gets a salary there?, asks Mr. Agrawal.

1:00 pm: Lok Sabha is adjourned. Will meet at 2 pm.

12:50 pm: Members taking various issues during Matters of Urgent Public Importance.

Meenakshi Lekhi talks about Delhi government announcing cancelling house property tax while "funds for MCD is yet to be sent."

An MP seeks pan-India prohibition. An MP from Andhra Pradesh seeks setting up of steel plant in Kadapa region.

12:40 pm: Trinamool MP Prof. Saugata Roy says the government is taking two different approaches when it comes to river-sharing with neighbouring nations. While Pakistan has to live with the fact that India will fully utilise its share of water as per the Indus Water Treaty, the government is trying to push Teesta Water Treaty. Why is the West Bengal Chief Minister not informed about the developments, he asks. 

12:30 pm: Shiv Sena MPs storm the Well urging government to revoke ban on Mr. Gaikwad from flying. Speaker says she allowed Anandrao to raise the issue and the Minister has replied. "We all can understand what transpired. Do not up the issue like that."

12:25 pm: Rajya Sabha adjourned till 2 pm.

12:20 pm: K.C. Venugopal raises the issue of racial attack on Indians abroad. A student hailing from Kerala was abused in Australia. Read more

It is not a stray incident. It is happening day-today, says Jose K. Mani, another MP from Kerala.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar responds. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is in contact with these victims. It is unfortunate such incidents are happening. We will leave no stones unturned to ensure safety of Indians living abroad.

12:18 pm: Minister of Civil Aviation Ashok Gajpati Raju responds.

"I just want to put things in right perspective. Around November 2014, there was a lot of discussion on demeanor of the passengers. Any passenger  whose demeanor is bad is stopped from travelling now. An MP is also a passenger, we can't have unequal treatment to people of different classes, we need to keep safety in mind, can't compromise safety of airlines," says the Aviation Minister.

12:13 pm: Zero Hour proceedings begin. Shiv Sena MP Anandrao Adsul raises the issue of airlines banning his party MP Ravindra Gaikwad after the latter brutally thrashed an Air India staff.

He also says actor Kapil Sharma too misbehaved with an airline staff earlier. But he was not banned. They why ban an MP?

12:10 pm: Saugata Roy says he is objecting the 'midnight maneuvers' of government. Speaker objects to the use of word.

Ms. Mahajan allows Mr. Jaitley to introduce the Bill. He moves two more Bills related to implement GST.

12:04 pm: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley seeks to introduce IGST Bill. Congress member K.C. Venugopal raises point of order. He objects on technical grounds, says the set procedure has to be followed. Government has enough time, it is curtailing the rights of the member. I am not opposing the introduction of Bill, but the procedure, says Mr. Venugopal.

Mr. Jaitley says list of Business was issued on Friday. It was vetted in late evening, was circulated to members around midnight. It was uploaded that night itself. Revised or supplimentary list can be issued when the Secretariat is working, says Mr. Jaitley.

12:03 pm: Prakash Javadekar introduces Bill on amending the IIT Act.

12:00 noon:  Rajya Sabha re-assembles. Adjourned for 15 minutes.

In Lok Sabha, Question is over. Ministers are laying various papers pertaining to their departments.

Lawmakers are laying on table various Committee reports. Prominent ones are on empowerment of tribal women, and coal allocation.

11:55 am: At several places, people work for a long period under contract, from 10 to 20 years, does the government propose to restrict the duration of employment under contract?

Under Contract Labour Act, we have exempted  emergency services. Wherever contract workers are there, we have made arrangements for licence, says Mr. Dattatreya.

The work of permanent nature is being given on contract, what steps being taken to check the exploitation of labour, asks another member⁠⁠⁠⁠.

Labour Minister says those people working for the past several years under contract, they would be covered under all labour laws and benefits.

11:50 am: In Lok Sabha, a member asks. First parameter in the ranking system is "teachers".  Several universities do not have research facilities, teachers, would you give funds to them?

Mr. Javadekar says we have lunched a programme for colleges to extend support, in rural areas we anyhow give infrastructural grants.

Grants are also being given from research works, the universities should submit their proposals to avail of the grants, says the minister.

11:45 am: Rajya Sabha reassembles. Satish Chandra Mishra asks if the government is trying to roll back these commissions? Give notice, says Mr. Kurien.

Chaos continues. Deputy Chairman adjourns House till noon.

11:45 am: Three reasons why Indian varsities not making to the top in University rankings.

On ranking of Indian educational institutions HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar agrees that Indian varsities are lagging. There are three reasons, First, they indeed need to improve, second the perception also matters. Third, those involved in the survey are mostly from Western countries, we would involve the Indian diaspora to increase awareness about out institutions, says Minister.

11:40 am: On 18 items, the growth is negative, says Kharge, countering Minister's assertion that the situation is now improving. You are importing costly pulses, why not procure from villagers on MSP? He asks.

MoS Nirmala Sitharaman responds. Steps are being taken to ensure that there is sufficient production of pulses. Bumper crop this time, adequate MSP being offered by the government. We are happy to procure more pulses from domestic farmers. But, to ensure enough stocks, various kinds of pulses being imported.

Ms. Sitharaman categorically rejects that demonetisation has negatively affected exports. The fall in exports was happening for the past 14 months. It is driven by global situation and not because of demonetisation, she says.

11:38 am: Mallikarjun Kharge raises the issue of declining exports.  Quoting data he says there is negative growth in exports sector. Small and marginal industrialists are affected, and so is unemployment looming large.

Decline in exports, particularly merchandise goods happened in FY 14-15, 15-16, but situation is improving now. There is a decline in international demands. However, balance is maintained by our services sector, we have launched various schemes to promote exports and it is showing results. This was government's reply.

11:35 am: But Lok Sabha is smoothly conducting Question Hour.

Supriya Sule and Shivaji Patil raise issue of inclusion of Dhangar community in the ST category. Minister Jual Oram says the community enjoys reservation in  Chhattisgarh and other states, while Maharashtra is yet to send a recommendation on this.

Member Chintaman Navsha Wanga says the community should not be included.

11:35 am: Rajya Sabha adjourned for 10 minutes as MPs raise slogans demanding justice to minorities and marginalised.

11:30 am: Minority Affairs Minister Mukthar Abbas Naqvi responds on inclusion of Jain in minorities commission.

"In our country, there are six religious minorities. The process of appointment of chief of Minority Commission is on. Since Jains wanted to have a role, we thought the constitution of new team, there should not be without their participation."

Mr. Yechury says the Leader of the House should respond. The vacancies in National Commissions are lying vacant.

11:25 am: Zero Hour begins in Rajya Sabha. Naresh Agrawal takes up the issue of airlines banning an MP from flying after he thrashed an Air India staff. He has not been proven guilty. How can he be banned?, he asks. "This is strong arm tactics of airlines," Mr. Agrawal says.

11:20 am: In Rajya Sabha, Mr. Kurien is 'teaching' Digvijaya Singh Rules!

Mr. Singh wants the Chair to discuss the motion he moved on Goa Governor calling BJP to form government, when Congress was the single largest party.

Mr. Kurien is quoting Rule 172. Mr. Singh says the Rule says the Chair 'may', so

11:15 am:  'Backlogs in implementing OBC quota'

Samajwadi Party member Ram Gopal Yadav speaks in the issue of OBC reservation. "For 27 years there is OBC quota, but it is only on paper," he says.

"I have written to the PM and others that in educational institutions, banks, public sector, there is  huge backlog in filling up vacancies based on quota," Mr. Yadav says. 

In allies services, 150 candidates' incomes were sought to be known. They went to court. In JNU, money was given for implementation of quotas. Govt must fill the backlogs.

When people from these castes get selected for IAS and other candidates, there have been 400 who were selected in interviews but not sent for training. Those who come in merit are pushed down to fill up quota and those near the bottom are pushed out, claims the MP.

"It is serious, if true. But I still doubt it," says Mr. Kurien.

11:10 am: Rajya Sabha assembles.  Deputy Chairperson P.J. Kurien is in the Chair.

11:05 am: MoS for Labour and Employment, Bandaru Dattatreya is answering question on child labour. Most child labourers are employed in unorganised sectors. We have started two initiatives to curtail child labour. Firstly, we have made Child Labour illegal through Act. We have given a new definition to adolescent and banned employing them in hazardous industries.

We have a National Child Labour Project covering 21 States to rehabilitate rescued child labourers.

11:00 am: Lok Sabha begins proceedings. Question Hour begins. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan is in the Chair.

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