On the second day of monsoon session, Congress walked out of Lok Sabha to protest against the rising mob violence in the country. The issue was raised in Rajya Sabha as well.
Both Houses passed one Bill each: the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 , in Lok Sabha, and Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013, in Rajya Sabha.
Here are the live updates:
N.K. Premachandran says it's quite unfortunate that the minister made remarks on some Opposition members. He says, the last session was disrupted not due to Opposition. "We are supporting the Bill. The main issue is with Clause 14," says Mr.Premachandran. Will this Bill pass the legal scrutiny, the minister hasn't responded," he says.
Mr. Premachandran says he is moving the motion that the Bill should be disapproved. House rejects his motion by voice vote.
The Bill is taken for clause-by-clause consideration.
The Lok Sabha extends beyond the prescribed time to pass the Bill.
The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 is passed with amendments.
The House is adjourned till tomorrow.
Jithendra Singh asks Members to recall Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan ‘Maximum governance, minimum government.’
He says that the government is seeking to become as incorruptible as possible by trying to change their economic behaviour.
The Rajya Sabha extends beyond the prescribed time to pass the Bill. The motion to adopt the Bill is adopted. The Bill has now been taken up for clause-by-clause consideration.
The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill has been passed by the Rajya Sabha.
Special Mentions are being made. The House is adjourned till tomorrow.
Piyush Goyal, the minister in-charge for Finance, responds to members' concerns. He claims the Bill was brought as Ordinance as during Budget session, the House wasn't in order.
Mallikarjun Kharge objects. He says the Bill was brought in minutes before the session was about to end.
Mr. Goyal says the Bill will ensure justice is not denied. We wanted to bring large defaulters fast tracked first and hence the Rs.100 crore threshold.
Responding to the "draconian search and seizure clause" remark by TMC MP Kalyan Banerjee, Mr. Goyal says the law takes its cue from PMLA laws.
On the disposing of seized assets, Mr. Goyal says the Bill elaborates how the confiscated properties will be dealt with.
Why aren't you keeping away offenders who have fled the country swindling upto Rs. 99 crores? asks Dushyant Chautala. He is referring to a clause that keeps a Rs. 100 crore threshold.
The Bill states the confiscated properties will be sold within six months. Mr. Chautala says several such assets are lying with SEBI for the past several years. How will this be distributed?
M.V. Rajeev Gowda of the Congress says there is no Lokpal for the last four years. He says the WhistleBlowers (Amendment) Bill has not been brought up as it subverts and attacks whistleblowers. He adds that the government has not taken any action on existing cases of corruption.
Tiruchi Siva of the DMK says the Bill makes the giver of a bribe a direct offender. “If a person is coerced to give a bribe, how will it be considered?” he asks. He says he supports the Bill.
Ripun Bora of the Congress says corruption and corrupt practices is not defined clearly in the Bill.
Madhusudan Mistry of the Congress asks if this law makes foreign companies liable for prosecution. Jithendra Singh, Mos for Public Grievances and pensions replies to Members’ concerns about the Bill.
Vivek K. Tankha of the Congress says the government has brought corporates into the ambit of the Bill. He says the issue with the Bill lies with the definition of ‘public nature.’ He says it is not defined in the Bill, and that the Bill has many ambiguities.
Bhubaneshwar Kalita is in the Chair.
Bhupender Yadav of the BJP says that this Bill has removed all different words and replaced them with ‘undue advantage.’ He also says he supports the Bill.
V. Vijaysai Reddy of the YSR Congress says that the Bill has positive aspects. “This Bill allows public servants to take decisions without fear,” he says. He says there is no distinction between coercive and collusive bribery.
Supriya Sule (NCP) says the bill is silent on creditors as well as the employee who were employed in these companies. Why don't we strengthen the External Affairs instead of bringing another Bill, she says.
We need to be committed for a fair and transparent system, she says. She appeals the Finance Minister to bring a flawless Bill.
M.B. Rajesh (CPI-M) says his party will support every sincere effort to punish fugitive offenders provided they are not mere eyewash. Mr. Rajesh fears many provisions wouldn't survive a legal scrutiny. This Bill lacks will, he says.
As many as 31 economic offenders have fled the country since 2014, he says. This means the govt. facilitated safe passage of economic offenders, Mr. Rajesh claims.
Shrikant Eknath Shinde (Shiv Sena) says clarity is needed on action taken on fugitives.
Konda Vishweshwar Reddy (TRS) says his party is supporting the Bill but says it has conflicts and inconsistencies. Why should there be a threshold at all? he asks. Mr. Reddy says the Bill is blank on stakeholders and creditors. What will it do with money seized, he asks. The Bill is not answering on the plight of employees, he says.
Ordinances are undemocratic, Tathagata Satpathy
Tathagata Satpathy (BJD) says prima facie the Bill looks like a strong Act that will scare people from committing crimes. But when checked with a critical lens, it is far from its conviction.
It is not that India lacks in regulation and laws. We should have what is the per capita law we have. The issue is in its implementation, he says.
Mr. Satpathy asks why the law was passed as an Ordinance when the session was due. It is undemocratic and must be avoided, he says.
The Bill has no mention on how to bring back the fugitive offenders to India. The Bill is silent and not piercing the corporate veil, he says.
Manoj Kumar Jha of the RJD says the word ‘undue’ in the phrase ‘undue advantage’ is not defined in the Bill. He paraphrases Shakespeare: There is almost everything rotten in the state of Denmark.
“The rule of law has two faces: one for the masses, and one for the classes,” he says.
D. Raja of the CPI says corruption is eating into the vitals of our society. “Corruption makes people frustrated, angry and cynical.” He asks where Lokpal is. He says government is not open about action regarding black money.
'We want to see the fugitives in Indian jails'
Kalyan Banerjee (TMC) says the Act will apply only when the criminal court has issued a warrant of arrest and the person is not available in India. This means the regular criminal cases has to be taken up fast. "What is special in this," he asks.
Mr. Banerjee says "Modi syndicate" has fled the country. He then says he meant Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi.
Can any Indian court attach properties in foreign land. Can an Indian court issue arrest warrant and direct a person to be arrested if he is abroad? Then why are you insisting a warrant from a court, he asks.
"India wants to see their faces in the Indian jail. India doesn't want your lectures," he says.
T.G. Venkatesh Babu of the AIADMK is up next. He also objects to the part of the Bill that contradicts Article 21 of the Constitution. He says the Bill is shrouded in ambiguity and uncertainty in its embryonic stage.
'Govt diluting anti-corruption bill'
Prasanna Acharya (BJD) says the Bill was intended to strengthen the law, but "I fear we are trying to dilute the law."
There are some good clauses such as increasing the quantum of punishment. But the soul of the Act is being taken out of the Bill, he says referring to the dilution of Section 13 of the Act.
The Bill was brought by UPA government. It is being tabled by the NDA government. There were allegations of corruption then. There are allegations of corruption now, he says.
T.K. Rangarajan is in the Chair. K.K. Ragesh of the CPI(M) says Lokpal is like ‘Waiting for Godot.’ He cites a Transparency International report stating that the judiciary is the most corrupt segment in the state.
Bring wilful defaulters under Prevention of Corruption Act, says Sukhendu Shekar Roy
Sukhendu Shekar Roy (TMC) says the Bill was introduced in 2013 and House is discussing it five years later. The Bill got the scrutiny of both Standing Committee and the Select Committee.
The word gratification is not adequately explained in the Bill, he says. In absence of proper definition, the provision can be misused, he says.
The Select Committee says both bribe giver and bribe receiver are equal partners of the crime. Then both must get same quantum of punishment, Mr. Roy says.
Mr. Roy, who was a member of the Select Committee that looked into the Bill, says many of the panel's suggestions have not been considered.
There is a monumental corruption in banking sector. The fugitives are taking refuge in countries where we don't have extradition treaty. While poor people with few lakh outstanding are being humiliated. But wilful defaulters are scot-free... they should be brought within the Prevention of Corruption Act, he says.
'Why no punitive action against executives?'
"Corruption is the violation of fundamental rights of every citizen," says A Navaneethakrishnan of AIADMK while beginning his speech.
He draws attention to two specific clauses — of punishing bribe giver, fine on commercial firms that has been accused of paying bribe. Mr. Navaneethakrishnan highlights the disparity. When the Negotiable Instruments Act arrests the cheque signing authority in case of cheque bounce, why is he not prosecuted in this case, he asks.
Overall this Bill is an improvement, we have to see how this Bill is implemented, he says expressing support to the Bill.
Bill an exercise in tokenism: Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor of the Congress says that the government didn’t pay MGNREGA workers, but white collar criminals fled the country with an equivalent sum of money.
He says the fugitives are all living in luxury abroad. He calls the Bill an exercise in tokenism. He says that existing provisions in the CrPC (Section 83) already address this issue.
He asks that the ₹100 crore limit be removed. “We must have sufficient safeguards in the law to prevent the government from harassing people.” He says the Bill denies any Indian citizen the right to civil remedy.
He quotes the Supreme Court judgment that made access to justice an inalienable right, and says that this Bill is in contravention of that verdict.
Corruption in Mudra, alleges MP
Shweth Malik (BJP) lists the number of scams that were reported during the UPA rule. People had lost trust in democracy then, he says and accuses Congress of "spreading the cancer of corruption to the society."
Mr. Malik lauds the clause that punishes the bribe giver. He claims this will eradicate "the social evil."
Ravi Prakash Varma of SP lauds the government for taking swift action on bringling laws to increase punishment for rape. He goes on to ask why the government doesn't take the same swift actions to tackle corruption.
Mr. Varma says the divide between the rich and poor is "dangerously high." In such a scenario the punitive action against bribe givers will target the poor, he says.
Even government's flagship Mudra scheme is a target of corruption, Mr. Varma says.
Mr. Varma expresses doubts if pharma companies are lobbying for clinical trials.
Bhartruhari Mahtab of the BJD asks if there is any clause in the Bill regarding recovery of the money that has been lost due to fugitive economic offenders.
Nishikant Dubey of the BJP says the Opposition will understand that this Bill is necessary because of rising NPAs in banks during the UPA regime. “And you're pointing fingers at us?” he asks.
He reads out the Objectives of the Bill which states that “absence of such offenders from Indian courts has several deleterious consequences, such as, it obstructs investigation in criminal cases, it wastes precious time of courts and it undermines the rule of law in India. Further, most of such cases of economic offences involve non-repayment of bank loans thereby worsening the financial health of the banking sector in India. The existing civil and criminal provisions in law are inadequate to deal with the severity of the problem.”
Leader of the Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge begins objecting to Mr. Dubey’s statements as he starts talking about Robert Vadra.
Mr. Dubey says Nirav Modi took all loans during the 2010-14 period. “On June 3, 2013, Congress government banned gold import into the country. Ten days later, a meeting was called to overhaul that policy, and on June 21, 2013, then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram approved the 20:80 scheme.” He says that Congress did this because they needed money for elections.
He says that Nirav Modi was created by the UPA. He asks why the UPA did not create a law for economic offenders.
What is the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 about?
The Bill was first moved in 2013, seeks to make giving a bribe a specific offence.
The Bill redefines criminal misconduct to only cover misappropriation of property and possession of disproportionate assets.
The Bill has deleted the provision that protects a bribe giver from prosecution, for any statement made by him during a corruption trial.
While the Act requires prior sanction to prosecute serving public officials. The Bill extends this protection to former officials.
In Rajya Sabha, amendments to Prevention of Corruption Act is being discussed. Congress member Anand Sharma says the Bill is treating poor person "who is being extorted money" by corrupt officials and rich corporate lobbyists alike.
Three agencies are handling cases pertaining to PMLA. The same case is being handled by three agencies, he claims. Why are three agencies handling the same case? Many charges were proved false. What about their reputation, he asks.
Mr. Sharma also accuses the government of abuse of government agencies.
In the last four years, how many real corrupt officials have you booked so far? Mr. Sharma asks.
Mr. Sharma recalls the Lokpal movement in 2013 that sought a strong anti-corruption body. Some who were part of the movement, a part of ruling party, he says. Why aren't they insisting on whistleblower protection now? Mr. Sharma asks.
Lok Sabha Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill
The Lok Sabha takes up The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2018 for consideration and passing once the House reconvenes.
N.K. Premachandran criticises the government’s use of the Ordinance route to make laws. He says the government could have resolved the logjam in the Parliament to pass laws. He says supports the Bill. He asks if the government is sincere about confiscating the assets of those who have fled the country, and if it will pass legal scrutiny. He says if he receives these clarifications from the government, the Bill has his complete support.
Mr. Premachandran says that the clause stating that anyone whose property is confiscated cannot seek legal recourse contradicts the right to life. He also says that Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and other offenders all fled the country under the watch of the NDA government.
Deputy Speaker M. Thambidurai is in the Chair.
He asks if they left the country with the knowledge and consent of authorities. He says the government has lost the political will to deal with corporates. He demands a Joint Parliamentary Committe too probe this. He says corporates have looted the country only because of political influence.
House reconvenes. The Rajya Sabha takes up The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill. This Bill makes the giving of a bribe to public official a direct offence. Also, before a police officer conducts any investigation into an offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant, prior approval of the relevant government or competent authority to be taken.
Zero Hour continues
M.K. Raghavan raises the issue of setting up AIIMS-like institute in Kozhikode. He says the government has overlooked Kerala, and asks them to set up an institute.
Sushmita Dev of the Congress speaks about the National Registry of Citizens. She says the government is shifting goalposts with every new order. She asks the NRC authority to act consistently and predictably so as to not harass genuine citizens of India.
Bhartruhari Mahtab of the BJD says that social work syllabus needs to be guided by Indian examples and not Western guidelines. The government needs to Indianise and indigenise the syllabus, he says.
Hema Malini of the BJP speaks about water scarcity in the country. She says unplanned urbanisation is depeleting groundwater resources.
Speaker asks Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav to apologise to the House, for throwing his papers and demanding that Bihar be given Special Category Status. The RJD Member also entered into a heated argument with Minister Giriraj Singh, even as Question Hour began.
House is adjourned till 2.10 p.m.
On world class institutes
Prakash Javadekar, HRD Minister answers a question on the Institutes of Eminence tag to universities, both public and private.
He says the Ministry will evaluate the tag every year. He also speaks of a plagiarism software that is used in Universities, and says that this will be used for all PhD theses.
Keshav Rao asks about the tag given to the Jio Institute. Mr. Javadekar says that the Jio Institute falls under the ‘greenfield’ category, which was selected from those who had applied under that category. “We have only given them a letter of intent,” says the Minister. “We will evaluate them after three years and only then give them the Eminence tag.”
Jairam Ramesh asks about faculty shortage in public institutions. The Minister replies that the Ministry has asked central institutes to scout all over the world for good faculty. “Next month, we will have the IIT council meeting. The IITs will go to all countries and seek to recruit faculty from the Indian diaspora.”
Chair asks if the government will also consider Mr. Ramesh for faculty. Minister says that they have a permanent invitation for him.
House is adjourned till 2 p.m.
On crimes against women and children
The next question is on the international report on crime against women and girls. A Member asks for figures for the years 2016-17 and 2017-18. Minister of State for Women and Child Development Virendra Kumar says the figures from NCRB have not arrived as yet.
Jaya Bachchan cites a Thomson Reuters report that India is the most unsafe country for women and girls. She asks for the detailed report on the Kathua rape and murder and if the government will place a white paper on crimes against women in the Parliament.
When the Minister focusses on crimes in Madhya Pradesh, Ms. Bachchan asks him for a specific answer on Kathua. This leads to much shouting from both sides of the aisle.
Vandana Chavan of the NCP rises the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. She asks what constitutes an Internal Complaints Committee.
On religious minorities
Swapan Dasgupta raises the issue of what he calls the systematic attack of Hindus in Bangladesh. Bangladeshi Hindus are migrating to India and it is causing demographic change in Assam. What steps is the government realistically taken to safeguard Hindus in Bangladesh.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj says according to Bangladesh government report the number of Hindus have been increased to over 10 per cent in the country. The government is pursuing cases of hate crimes and it is wrong to say the exodus of Hindus are in place in Bangladesh, she says.
Another member asks about status of Hindu refugees who migrated from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Ms. Swaraj says the Home Ministry has come up with the Citizenship Amendment Bill and it has been passed in Lok Sabha. She hopes the Upper House too passes the Bill, which will benefit many refugees.
On Question paper leak
In Rajya Sabha, members are asking questions on question paper leak reported in various examinations.
Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar says the paper was leaking by a person for money and it was subsequently circulated via Whatsapp. He was speaking about the TET question paper leak. The issue is being investigated, he says.
Digvijay Singh claims it is an organised racket and not one-off incident. Mr. Javadekar agrees and says his ministry is seriously pursuing the matter.
Another member raises the issue of copying in examinations. Mr. Javadekar says National Testing Agency is being considered to come up to conduct examinations in a fool proof manner.
'Mob lynchings unfortunate'
In Zero Hour, Congress member raises the issue of attack on Swami Agnivesh. He asks why nobody has been arrested yet. Congress members demand an answer from the government. Frame a law to tackle mob lynching, a member says.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh says lynching has been reported from many parts of the country that has resulted in murders. Mr. Singh says he condemns such incidents. Most of these incidents are triggered due to "unverified fake news." Public order is a state subject. The Home Ministry has sent advisory to States twice, in 2016 and 2018. The minister says social media service providers have been asked to install checks in their platforms. Such incidents are unfortunate, I have spoken to the chief ministers personally to ensure the perpetrators are arrested.
Unhappy with the response, Congress walks out.
Santosh Ahalawat requests Railway Ministry to increase frequency of trains from her Jhunjunu constituency to the Capital.
Rajya Sabha moves to Question Hour. Questions are being asked on release of funds to State Governments.
P.L.Punia, Congress member, asks what is the percentage of fund is being alloted for storm water drainage. The Minister says Rs. 2969 crores are allotted for this purpose. It is up to the States to decide on the percentage, he says.
In Lok Sabha, Zero Hour proceedings begin. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan informs the House the Kottayam member Jose K. Mani will no longer be part of the House since he has been elected Rajya Sabha. She also informs the House that Baijayant Panda's resignation has been accepted.
Members are presenting reports listed against their names.
Errors in Tamil NEET paper
Tamil Nadu member Vijila Satyanath raises the issue of errors in NEET question paper set in Tamil. She says the CBSE has appealed against the verdict and this is delaying the admission process, causing agony to students.
She also highlights how students from Tamil Nadu were made to write examinations in Kerala, Rajasthan and Sikkim.
Prakash Javadekar says Tamil Nadu government provided the translators. Last year we had separate papers for languages. Following feedback, we framed a single question paper, he says.
Mr. Naidu asks why children are being made to travel for examination to which the minister replies: "There will be no displacement of children from next year."
Social media and mobocracy
Harivansh, Bihar MP, highlights the misuse of social media. He cites examples of Cambridge Analytica scandal and reports of US election rigging. He also says it's worrisome that many people have been lynched based on social media rumours.
Anand Sharma joins the issue and asks for a broader discussion on framing a policy. Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu asks the government to take all concerned parties and bring out a policy.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad says he is already pursuing the case with social media organisations.
Sukhendu Shekar Roy also condemns Union Minister felicitating mob lynching convicts. Muslims, minorities and Dalits are mostly being targetted in mob lynching, says D. Raja. Shouldn't we be ashamed to discuss mob lynching in a civilised society, he says.
T.K. Rangarajan (CPI-M) and Sanjay Singh (AAP) raise the issue of attack on Swami Agnivesh by right-wing activists in Jharkhand. They want the parliament to condemn the action.
Prasanna Acharya, BJD, says many Army jawans have committed suicides in the recent past. He claims one of the reason is they are being deployed far away from their home. There are also complaints of poor food. Mr. Acharya says the junior jawans are being ill-treated by seniors. Mr. Acharya suggests constitution of an independent body to study the issues faced by jawans.
In Lok Sabha, questions are being taken on upgradation of airports. An AIADMK MP asks what are the steps being taken to upgrade Madurai airport. MoS Jayant Sinha says more aircrafts are being added to Madurai. As he elaborates, he is barely audible as opposition members resort to sloganeering on various issues.
As sloganeering subsidises, Union Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari says it is now mandatory to use 10 per cent plastics in laying roads. This will reduce pollution and will increase the life of roads, he says. He is responding to a question on cementing roads.
Mr. Gadkari says cement roads are laid in places where monsoon is heavy. He also says 40% of cement manufactures is used for road construction.
UGC order bypasses reservation?
In Rajya Sabha, Zero Hour proceedings begin.
Ram Gopal Yadav raises the recent government order issued by the UGC on new reservation policy on faculty admission. The issue was raised in Lok Sabha on Wednesday too. Mr. Yadav says the GO is against the principles of reservation and would be gross injustice, especially to the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes. Many members associate with Mr. Yadav.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Opposition, seeks a full-fledged discussion on the issue.
Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar says the government shares the concerns of the members. The UGC took the decision based on the court ruling and we have filed two special leave petition, he says. I am confident that the court will rule in favour of us, he adds.
Certain universities took steps to fill up vacancies. I have issued orders to pause the interviews. Reservation will stay, Mr. Javadekar says.
Both Houses convene.
In Lok Sabha Question Hour begins. Anurag Thakur, BJP MP, and a former cricker administrator asks if union government is doing enough for sports infrastructure and identifying sport talent.
Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, an Olympian, says the infrastructure is taken care by the states and identifying local talents are the responsibility of sports associations. The Nation Sports Development Fund is funding Olympian players, he says.
This year the government will target children aged 8-12 years under Khelo India programme to develop sports persons at younger age.
The Congress party members took part in a novel protest against what they called the insufficient hike in the minimum support price to farmers. The MPs carried a bag of maize to the Parliament and blocked the main entrance.
While the government claims the recent hike in MSP was the highest and "historic," Congress claims this was a 'jumla' and factors such as fuel prices were not considered when announcing the decision.
Trouble brews in TDP ahead of no-trust motion
Ahead of the debate on the no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha tomorrow, TDP MP from Anantapuramu, J.C. Diwakar Reddy, said he would continue to stay away during the entire monsoon session. He didn't attend the Parliament on Wednesday too.
The party has issued a whip directing all its MPs to attend Parliament on Friday and Monday. But Mr. Reddy seems undeterred. “This is just a routine. The government is not going to fall anyway. And I cannot speak English or Hindi. So my presence or absence doesn’t matter,” he told reporters in Anantapuramu late last night.
“There are others who are well-versed in English and can speak well,” he added.
Meanwhile the YSR Congress party continued its protest seeking Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh. Party members held placards and raised slogans outside the Parliament premises.