The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed two key bills without a debate, as the House once again witnessed protests by the Opposition over the Pegasus snooping controversy and farmers' issues.
The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021 and The Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021 were passed separately by voice vote before the House was adjourned for the day as Opposition continued with their sloganeering.
Tuesday was the eleventh consecutive working day of the Lower House to witness repeated adjournments.
When the proceedings started at 11am, Speaker Om Birla pointed out that important issues related to the farmers were being discussed and urged the protesting members to go back to their seats.
During the Question Hour, more than seven questions pertaining to farmers — on issues ranging from Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, dairy, Food Corporation of India depot, nurseries and quality saplings of fruit-bearing trees, and Farmer Produce Organisations — were taken up and answered by the respective Ministers.
The Question Hour went on for nearly 40 minutes. Expressing his displeasure at the members “insulting” Parliamentary traditions, Mr. Birla then adjourned the House until noon.
The House was adjourned one more time when it reassembled at noon as members did not heed the request of Biju Janata Dal member, Bhartruhari Mahtab, who was in the Chair.
As the House reconvened at 2 PM, Mr. Birla asked the Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt to move the Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021, that seeks to prohibit any agitation and strike by anyone engaged in essential defence services.
Mr. Bhatt informed the House that the “biggest thing” is that a “sunset clause” — a clause that gives an expiry date to a law — was given in the bill.
Terming the bill “draconian”, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said it should not be passed when the House is “not in order”.
While N.K. Premachandran (RSP) echoed the Congress leader’s position about not passing the bill in the din, TMC's Saugata Roy alleged that the measure was “anti-labour”.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh assured the House that that there may not be a need to invoke this Act, adding that the law “will be effective for only a year”.
The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021 seeks to replace an ordinance issued in June in the wake of agitation plans by the employees of the Indian Ordnance Factories after the government announced its plan to corporatise it.
Once the Defence Services bill was passed, the House was adjourned until 4 pm. On reconvening, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman moved the Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021 for passage.
The bill seeks to abolish tribunals or authorities under various laws by amending the Cinematograph Act, 1952, the Copyrights, Act, 1957, the Customs Act, 1962, the Patents Act, 1970, the Airport Authority of India Act, 1994, the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act.
Certain existing appellate tribunals would be dissolved and their functions such as adjudication of appeals transferred to other existing judicial bodies.
Once again, Mr .Chowdhury and Mr. Premchandran objected to the passage of such important bills when the House was not in order.
Ms. Sitharaman said that the government was ready to respond to any queries raised by members and blamed the Opposition for creating “Constitutional impasse in Parliament”.