Parliament proceedings as it happened | Rajya Sabha adjourns early amid Congress protest

Congress members protesting in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Congress members protesting in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: RSTV

Rajya Sabha adjourns early as Congress members protest over the political crisis in Karnataka.

The Rajya Sabha had to adjourn early as Congress continued their protest against the ruling party blaming it for the political crisis in Karnataka.

In the Lok Sabha, the Finance Minister gave her reply to the budget discussion. The House also took up the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill. The Bill replaces an Ordinance that was promulgated earlier this year. It seeks to establish an autonomous and independent institution for better management of arbitration in India.

Here are the live updates:

Lok Sabha | 6:00 p.m.

Lok Sabha adjourned till 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Lok Sabha | 5:30 p.m.

Addressing the House on the Bill, BJD MP Pinaki Misra, said that the continuous lapses in the passing of Bills because of the dissolution of the Lok Sabha must be avoided as it is a criminal waste public money. He further says that unless the Indian Law and the arbitration process is amended, the endless litigation cycle will continue.  Strict amendments to the Arbitration Act has to be made for arbitration to be made easier, Mr. Misra says.

MP Jayadev Galla, TDP,  says that a neutral decision-making body is necessary to establish the country as an arbitration destination. If the Centre takes up the appointment of authorities and the allocation of  funds, the independence and the credibility of the arbitration institution will be comprimised. Moreover, the procedural framework should be established within the Bill itself and not rely on the bureaucracy, Mr. Galla says.

Also, there is no mention of the setting up of regional centres, he pointed out.

MP Shashi Tharoor, Thiruvananthapuram, says that a credible centre needs toe be attractive enough for foreign countries to come here. It must meet the highest possible standards, Mr. Tharoor says. The inefficiency of the judicial process must also be addressed, he added.

Lok Sabha | 4:45 p.m.

BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi says that the previous Congress-ruled government promised the establishment of the centre through the previous Bill. But, in 22 years, only 23 cases were completed through the Centre, she says.  Ms. Lekhi says that although re-branding of the previous centre is taking place, the administrative structure and the mechanism followed will be changed. Citing a Niti Aayog report, Ms. Lekhi  says that 1,420 days is what it takes for any litigation to take place in the country. This is higher than most South Asian countries, she says, further stating that the country ranks  178th among 189 countries in the ease of enforcing contracts.

Ms. Lekhi further says that at the moment, 3.14 crore cases were pending before the Courts. Hence, a resolution to speed up dispute resolution is needed, she says.  Indians choose to go outside the country including Singapore, London and Stockholm,  instead of dealing with arbitrations here, she says. Infrastructure itself is an issue besides the lack of qualified arbitrators and the absence of a effective mechanism, Ms. Lekhi says.

The Bill seeks to change the structure and the methodology of the process, she says.

In response, AITC MP Saugata Roy, questions the urgency of promulgating the Ordinance without first allowing it to pass before the parliament.

Lok Sabha | 4:30 p.m.

Opposition leader and Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury says the NDIAC Bill is commendable in intention but is ambitious in terms of execution. Besides, it is simply an incarnation of the ICADR Arbitration Rules, 1996, Mr. Chowdhury says. He says that appropriate infrastructure is required before turning the country into a arbitration destination. The judiciary has a responsibility to guard and ensure state policies are economically beneficial for the country, he says.

Rajya Sabha | 4.15 p.m.

Rajya Sabha adjourns early

Amid protests by the Congress members, Leader of the Rajya Sabha Thaawarchand Gehlot says it has been decided in consultation with all parties that the House be adjourned as there was no order. An understanding has been reached that the parliamentary Affairs Minister would request the Finance Minister to be present in the House tomorrow from the morning, he says adding he hopes Congress member Anand Sharma and other members would begin discussion on the budget and continue it even till late in the night.

Mr. Sharma says his party is okay with the adjournment. Justifying the protests, Mr. Sharma says, “there was reason today and I don't want to go into the reasons. We request the government, as the Leader of the House, to begin the budget discussion  at 11 am tomorrow. And our party, the Congress, and the entire Opposition is serious about this budget debate.” He says the Opposition has also requested the Finance Minister’s presence in the House tomorrow, and requests the House be adjourned.

The Chair says taking into account the requests from both sides the House is adjourned till 11 am till July 11, 2019.


Lok Sabha | 4:15 p.m.

Discussions begin for the consideration and the passing of The New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (NDIAC) Bill, 2019 in the Lok Sabha. 

The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the NDIAC Bill, 2019. The Bill seeks to replace an ordinance promulgated in March this year and seeks to establish the NDIAC to conduct arbitration, mediation and conciliation proceedings.

Lok Sabha | 4:00 p.m.

MPs walk out of the House after stating that Ms. Sitharaman has made no clarifications on the Zero Budget proposed by the 2019 Budget document. The Finance Minister says that the Zero Budget concerns itself with the agriculture sector and that has been made clear.

In response to the Finance Minister's speech, MPs raise their concerns over the points mentioned.

Lok Sabha | 3:45 p.m.

On the allocation of funds for the welfare of SCs, STs, women, and children, Finance Minister Sitharaman says there has been a marked increase in the 2019-20 Budget. While there is a 30% increase in the funds for the welfare of SCs in the 2019-20 Budget from the previous one, there is a 29.3% increase for STs in the same. A 10.2% increase in funds allocated for women has been made in the current Budget, along with a 13.6% increase in funds for the welfare of children, says Ms. Sitharaman.

The Finance Minister also states that there has been a 25.5% increase in Budget 2019-20 in the funds allocated for the Northeast region.  Ms. Sitharaman goes on to say that there is no need for speculation on the figures given in the Budget and that every number is authentic.

Lok Sabha | 3:30 p.m.

The Finance Minister says members of the House state that no mention of agriculture has been made. This is completely false, she says, stating that a comprehensive solution  for the agriculture sector has been drawn out in the Budget.

With regard to the M.S. Swaminathan recommendations on Minimum Support Prices, all commodities under the same has seen a big jump in MSP, says Ms. Sitharaman. Market reforms have been our policy cornerstone, she says. 

Apart from this, the government has rolled out and implemented the PM-KISAN scheme with which ₹6,000 is given to all farmers. We are working on a pension scheme for farmers too, she says. 

Lok Sabha | 3:15 p.m.

The Budget gives the big picture of the government which received a strong mandate in the Lok Sabha elections, says Finance Minister. It tells the nation that a $5 trillion economy target by the government has been set at the end of the next ten years, she says. The Budget also spoke effectively on the question of job generation, the growth of investment, and turning the country into a manufacturing hub, which will be assured through greater investment from the government, Ms. Sitharaman says.

The Finance Minister also brought forth the question of the usage of a lower GDP base in the Budget 2019-20 document from the Economic Survey. This is to allow comparability between the Interim Budget produced in January and the previous Budget with the current Budget, says Ms. Sitharaman. The government always maintains a hand's distance from the Economic Survey, she says.

Lok Sabha | 3:00 p.m.

This Budget is essentially a continuity of the Interim Budget, says Finance Minister. This is the second Budget after the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax from 1st July 2017. Despite this, government expenditure has increased, she said.

Total resources transferred to States including for the various transfer of schemes is ₹13 ,29,428 crores. This entails an increase from last year.

Two years after the implementation of the GST implementation, the amount being spent is far higher than what was spent before. Budget focuses on boosting agriculture, health and education sector, she says.

Fiscal deficit is at 3.3% instead of 3.4%, she says. The government is committed to continue on the path of fiscal consolidation and is ensuring that this are taken care of through the mobilization of resources, Ms. Sitharaman says. 

Lok Sabha | 2:45 p.m.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman formally thanks each members of the House for actively participating in the discussion of the Budget. The number of MPs who participated gives reassurance that members are concerned with the growth of the economy, she says. Growth of the economy is as important as national security in the working of this government, says Ms. Sitharaman.

Lok Sabha | 2:30 p.m.

Mohammad Akbar Lone, JKNC MP (Baramullah), says Valley left at the mercy of the Jammu and Kashmir highway because of the lack of a railway line. The budget makes no mention on connectivity with regard to the State. The lack of a railway line affect not only the locals but the transport of essential goods. Mr. Lone says the aspirations of the people of the State cannot be ignored.

Rajya Sabha | 2:15 p.m.

Rajya Sabha resumes. Deputy Chairperson Harivansh is in the Chair. He asks Congress leader P. Chidambaram to speak. But the Congress members insist they have to discuss Karnataka political crisis. The Chair disallows. Sloganeering begins. House adjourned till 3 p.m.

Lok Sabha | 2:00 p.m.

Lok Sabha reconvenes. General discussion on the Union Budget begins

BJP MP Girish Balchandra Bapat (Pune), says the Finance Minister has touched up on a number of issues in the Budget, especially with regard to issues of housing for all and water. Aam aadmi will now be the owner of his own house with the implementation of the Budget, says Mr. Bapat. Apart from housing and water, the Prime Minister has also ensured the availability of LPGs and toilets in all houses, he says.

Lok Sabha | 1:00 p.m.

House is adjourned till 2 p.m.

Lok Sabha | 12:40 p.m.

BJP MP, Sukanta Majumdar, Balurghat (West Bengal), brings to the notice of the House the lack of connectivity in the Balurghat district of West Bengal. There are no regular trains to the major cities in the State, Mr. Majumdar says. Connectivity must be made a priority by the government, he says. 

Dr. Kirit Premjibhai Solanki, BJP MP from Ahmedabad West, urged the government to raise the importance of urging doctors to prescribe generic medicines to the poor as it is affordable.

Congress MP Hibi Eden (Ernakulam), says PSUs are the wealth of the nation and the government must refrain from disinvestment. Mr. Eden cites examples like the Cochin Port Trust, Cochin Shipyard, and other such public enterprises that remain important for the State. 

Lok Sabha | 12:30 p.m.

Tejasvi Surya (BJP), Bangalore South constituency MP, says illegal immigrants from Bangladesh a threat to the State of Karnataka and the city of Bangalore. He says Bangladeshi immigrants have illegally procured voter I.D. cards and Aadhaar cards with the help of the State government and are taking away jobs that belong to the people of the State. They also a pose a security threat to the State, he said.

Mr. Surya says the National Register of Citizens in Assam must be extended to all States to keep illegal immigrants from entering the country.

Rajya Sabha | 12:10 p.m.

Rajya Sabha resumes. The Chair takes up Question Hour. Congress members raise slogans. House is adjourned till 2 pm.

Lok Sabha | 11.40 a.m.

MoS External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, replying to a question says every district has a passport seva kendra. Bidyut Mahato (BJP) asks if the government plans to run these kendras by itself instead of outsourcing.

Mr. Muraleedharan says only certain aspects have been outsourced.

Sudhir Gupta, Mandsaur MP, says two kendras are not functioning in his constituencies. "I am aware of the member's concern. We are yet to get space from postal department. We are continuing the efforts. We will start it soon."

Why can't government start a passport office in every district? This is Manish Tewari's (Congress) query. The Minister replies: "We had 77 regional passport office. In the last five years it has become 505. We have reduced the time taken in the issue of granting passport to just 11 days. Police verification is now done through an app. Efforts are being made so that every citizen gets a passport." The member is not happy. Speaker asks him to request for supplementary.

Lok Sabha | 11.30 a.m.

Question Hour continues in Lok Sabha. Members have lots of questions pertaining to Railway Ministry. Most questions are on starting new train services and railway lines. MoS Suresh Angadi says all there concerns will be considered after conducting detail studies.

Piyush Goyal suggests all railway related queries can be address during discussion on Budget. The Railway Minister says in the last five years the ministry has expanded railways compared to last five decades.

Rajya Sabha | 11.25 a.m.

Congress member Anand Sharma seek permission to speak on Karnataka crisis. Congress members join him. The Chair continues with Zero Hour submission even as Congress members raise slogans.

House is adjourned till 12 noon.

Lok Sabha | 11.20 a.m.

Murlidhar Reddy (YSRCP) asks what is the status of coal block allocation. Mines Minister Pralhad Joshi says over 64 mines have been auctioned. It is an ongoing process. India's coal production has also been increased. We are hoping the production will increase more after the next set of auction.

Navas Kani (IUML) asks if the government has plans to set up a branch of Spices Board. Will the government set up training centre to chilli growers? Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal says Tamil Nadu produces 1 per cent of total chilli production. There are three offices in the State. How about a GI tag for Ramanad Mundu, a chilli variety. "We'll check into this," he says.

Rajya Sabha | 11.15 a.m.

Zero Hour proceedings begin in Rajya Sabha.

Samir Oraon wants to revive bauxite mining since it led to loss of several jobs in Jharkhand.

Ahamed Hassan (Trinamool Congress) speaks about granting citizenship to Sri Lankan Tamil refugee. When persceuted minorities of Bangladesh are granted citizenship, why not grant citizenship to these refugee as well.

A.K. Arjunan (AIADMK) seeks to establish medical college in Nilgiris.

Lok Sabha | 11.15 a.m.

Will automation lead to job loss in Railways? a member asks. MoS Railways Suresh Angadi's reply. "We were 400 odd MPs in the 1950s. Today, we are 543 representing the country. The quantity doesn't matter. The quality matters. The same way automation is for better quality. Workers won't lose their job."

MP Kalyan Banerjee asks about giving permanent jobs to contractual labourers. The MoS says skilled workers are engaged by the contractors and not Railways as such.

Lok Sabha | 11.10 a.m.

The Railway Ministry fields questions about the Railway workforce.

Suresh Angadi, MoS, Railways says the Railway workforce is hardworking and it caters to millions of people across the country.

BJP MP Girish Bapat asks what new technology has been brought in to help assist the railway workforce.

The Skill Development department is training the railways employees, replies Mr. Angadi. We are creating a very good atmosphere in generating employment in this sector.

Dr. Shrikant Shinde asks about repeated rail fractures in the Mubmai suburbs. What mechanism is being used by the Ministry to fill the position in the safety category, he asks.

"We are engaged in recruiting skilled manpower in the safety category," says Mr. Angadi, reeling out numbers of how many trackmen and gangmen have been recruited in the last three years.

11.00 a.m.

Both Houses convene.

Rajya Sabha begins with a reference of obituary of former member R. Ramakrishnan; papers are laid on the table.

Lok Sabha commences the Question Hour.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 7:03:35 PM |

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