Parliament proceedings | Rajya Sabha passes Finance Bill

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharama speaks in the Rajya Sabha on July 23, 2019. Photo: RSTV

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharama speaks in the Rajya Sabha on July 23, 2019. Photo: RSTV  

Rajya Sabha witnessed adjournment thrice and the entire opposition walked out in protest that the Prime Minister has not come to the House.

U.S. President Donald Trump's offer to mediate the decades-long Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to, echoed in both Houses.

The Lok Sabha is continuing its discussion on Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, while the Rajya Sabha has taken up the Finance Bill, with no opposition member in the House.

Here are the live updates:

 

Rajya Sabha| 6 pm

 

Rajya Sabha passes Finance (No. 2) Bill.

Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani moves the the POCSO (Amendment) Bill. She says she regrets the Opposition benches are empty.

After the Minister's speech and special mentions, the House is adjourned till 11 am on July 24.

 

Lok Sabha | 6 pm

 

The House is adjourned till 11 am on July 24. The debate will continue. 

Lok Sabha | 5.15 pm

 

‘Please don't make this country a police state’

The Lok Sabha is discussing the UAPA (Amendment) Bill, 2019

“The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019, inter alia, provides for— (i) empowering the Director General, National Investigation Agency to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the said agency; (ii) amending section 35 of the Act to empower the Central Government to add to or remove from the proposed Fourth Schedule, the name of an individual terrorist and other consequential amendments relating thereto; (iii) inserting a new clause (ba) in section 43 of the Act to empower an officer of the rank of Inspector of National Investigation Agency to investigate the offences under Chapter IV and Chapter VI.” | Read the text of the Bill.

Manish Tewari (Congress, Anandpur Sahib, Punjab) is speaking on the Bill. He takes objection to the provision in the Bill according to which anyone could be declared a terrorist. This will lead to a lot of misuse, he says.  Please don't make this country a police state, he says in conclusion.

Meenakshi Lekhi (BJP, New Delhi, NCR) counters Mr. Tewari saying it's not a dangerous law but a soft law. She began with quoting verses and continues to pepper her speech with quotes. The history of the Act began in 1967, she says. The very first amendment under Jawaharlal Nehru was to curtail freedom of expression, she says. Then came the 16th amendment in 1963 during the Indo-China war, she says. The DMK then wanted to cause session and the amendment was to prevent that.

Objection from the DMK members. Ms. Lekhi says it's historically correct. Chair says the objection can be raised later. 

Ms. Lekhi asks till you control the individual how can you control the organisation seeking to counter Mr. Tewari's argument of declaring anyone as a terrorist. 

BJP member Meenakshi Lekhi speaks in the Lok Sabha on July 23, 2019. Photo: LSTV

BJP member Meenakshi Lekhi speaks in the Lok Sabha on July 23, 2019. Photo: LSTV  

 

Whatever the changes are brought in they are technical in nature, she says adding the Opposition should also let its technical hold go like China did on Hafiz Saeed, Ms. Lekhi says. “The Ravan of today which can appear in the form of an NGO here or a social activist there should be dealt with and to do that such laws are needed,” she says.  Her verse on deshdrohis riles the Opposition. Chair tells them to raise point of order. Ironically N.K. Premachandran is in the Chair. 

Ravikumar (DMK, Villupuram, Tamil Nadu) rises to speak. He speaks in Tamil. Objection over availability of translation. Chair tells to check twice. He says the speaker before him recorded a wrong information and that the Dravida Nadu idea was put forward first by Rajaji. During the India-Pakistan the Tamil Nadu government under M. Karunanidhi was the one which collected the largest fund to the national exchequer, he says to stress the DMK's credentials. 

Mr. Ravikumar too takes up the provision against declaring individuals as terrorists. They don't call those who lynch people as terrorists. Those who kill people in the name of “honour killing” are not called terrorists, he says. The definition of an act of terror is not commensurate with the U.N. definition, he says quoting the U.N. rapporteur. The law's provisions are vague, he says. How can the govt compensate someone who is declared a terrorist and if a court of law discharges the person later, he asks. He lists out the “Urban Naxals” and Binayak Sen who have been declared terrorists. The law is against the U.N. provisions, which say presumption of innocence should be basis of any law. The law will be used to target people speak against the government, he says. “I'm not expressing fear but I say this law's aim is misuse,” he says in conclusion.

 

Lok Sabha | 4.45 pm

Sougata Roy has a question. Suppose I am struck at a toll plaza and an ambulance is behind me. Will I be jailed for six months? The Minister says such cases will be filed only after due investigation so the member shouldn't worry.

Kanimozhi and Premachandran ask about guardians of juveniles being arrested in case of accident. The Minister says the clause is kept so that parents and guardian take responsibility of their children and not let them drive.

Supriya Sule asks about electric vehicle subsidy. Minister's reply: "It is not part of the policy yet. We are considering the London model."

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asks about definition of aggregators. Mr. Gadkari says since there is no law on aggregators yet, we gave this definition.

Srinivas says education is mandatory for drivers. Nitin Gadkari says the clause was removed for people who are over 55 years. When they apply for licence renewal. They were facing issues.

The Bill is passed.

Lok Sabha | 4.15 pm

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is taken for voting.

N.K. Premachandran says he will move only essential amendments. Sougata Roy also says the same.

Amendments moved by Mr. Premachandran, Mr. Roy and Kanimozhi are negated through voice vote.

Lok Sabha | 4.00 pm

Mr. Gadkari says technology can bring down accidents. There is a system that doesn't allow the vehicle to run if the driver is under the influence of alochol. Similarly those driving without seat belts can be alerted in the police control rules.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury intervenes. He says India doesn't have spare parts for electric vehicles. How will you achieve your target?

Mr. Gadkari assures accidents will come down after the Bill comes to effect.  Black spots will be eliminated. More expressways are being created. Metros will be decluttered, he says.

With the help of States, we will transform the roadways, he says and once again assures the House that States' rights won't be affected. He appeals the House to pass the Bill.

Lok Sabha | 3.50 pm

Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari speaks about the parking plaza in his Ministry premises. There is a restaurant too. The chef is from Mumbai. Members should see the plaza and taste the pani poori, Mr. Gadkari says.

We want to convert knowledge into wealth, he says.

He reiterates it is not mandatory for States to join. However, he appeals all States to join in the policy.

On the topic of dealers directly getting Registration Numbers. Dealers have to take the brand new vehicle to RTO office and they will register the vehicle. What will an RTO inspect in a brand new vehicle. Dealers, in reality, don't take vehicle to the RTO office. They bribe the officials. We want to end that, he says.

He lauds Tamil Nadu government for bringing down accidental deaths.

We removed the education clause after Haryana CM requested so. Many lost driver's licence because they couldn't prove they have passed eighth class, he says.

Lok Sabha | 3.40 pm

Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari responds. He assures members that the rights of States won't be taken away. The States can continue to run road transport, even if it is making losses. It is their call.

National Transport Policy involves national mobility and inter-state mobility, he clarifies.

All we are saying is increase the ticket price by 15% and give the poor AC buses, he says.

On Sougata Roy's comments on dreams, Mr. Gadkari says one day it will be possible to travel from Delhi to Kolkata through inland waterways. We are operating freights now. We don't make promises that can't be implemented, he says.

Lok Sabha | 3.30 pm

How long will tolls be functioning? When there is road tax, why do you need toll plazas, asks Thol Thirumavalavan (VCK)

Sunil Kumar Pintu (JD-U) says for the first time people will have fear to violate motor vehicle rules.

Protima Mondal (Trinamool) gives some suggestions like national helpline on road accidents. The number of road accident-related deaths are like a jet flight crashing in India everyday, she says.

M. Bharat, a YSRCP member has just one request. Keep away stray cattle from highways! Mr. Bharat is an actor-turned-MP. The Chair appreciates him. 

Rajya Sabha | 3.15 pm

Rajya Sabha reconves. Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad says the Upper House is permanent. We don't have any constraint. So you can't force us to pass a Bill just because the other House passed it. We will not allow this House to become another government department.

No one is the Treasury Bench has the guts to ask the Prime Minister to visit the House and respond to members. That is why you have an office in the parliament, Mr. Azad says.

Bhupendra Yadav points out at the rule book and tells any council of minister can respond to members' questions.

Entire Opposition walks out in protest.

Leader of the House Thaawar Chand Gehlot appeals the opposition to come back. He says the integrity of the Prime Minister cannot be questioned like this.

Lok Sabha | 3.00 pm

Motor vehicles come under concurrent list. But the central government is enroaching upon the rights of the States, says N.K. Premachandran.

Rajya Sabha | 2.15 pm

Rajya Sabha assembles. Nirmala Sitharaman moves Appropriation Bill and Finance Bill.

Anand Sharma says usually the Prime Minister makes statement on such issues, but here an External Affairs Minister is answering. He is referring to Mr. Trump's comment.

Opposition members raise slogans asking the Prime Minister to make a statement.

A BJP member speaks on the Appropriation Bill. He is barely audible. Chidambaram (Congress) objects. "You have to bring the House in order. How can you let a member speak when the House is not in order?" he asks the Chair.

Prakash Javadekar targets Congress. You are walking out of the other House and disrupting the House here, he says.

Leader of the House Thaawar Chand Gehlot says anyone from the Council of Ministers can respond so the EAM has responded. He appeals members to allow the House to function.

House is adjourned.

Lok Sabha| 2:10 pm

Better late than never, says Nawas Kani (IUML) on the amendments to Motor Vehicle Act. Most of his speech is focussed on road safety. He points out how the country lost several luminaries, including former President Zail Singh, in road accidents.

Overloading of vehicles contribute to more than half of accidental deaths, he says. Non-wearing of helmets is also a major cause behind accidents. States must strictly implement road safety rules, he says.

Lok Sabha| 2:00 pm

Jothimani (Congress) says her Karur constituency has witnessed over 1000 deaths on NH-7. She requests the Minister to construct flyovers.

I believe the Minister but not this government, she says. Why did this government think the States are not competent enough create their own policy? This government doesn't listen to States, she alleges and draws parallels with NEET, where Tamil Nadu was initially given exemption but later brought in.

Tamil Nadu has a policy of allowing permit to private players only if they are willing to ply buses in non-profitable remote areas as well. How will Delhi ensure this is continued, she asks.

After lashing out at the government, she has some words of praise. She lauds the compulsory insurance cover clause.

Lok Sabha| 1:50 pm

Supriya Sule (NCP) hopes the Bill will bring a positive change. She poses a few questions.

How will it be a seamless process if several states opt out of centralising drivings licence? How will you make electric buses cost-effective? How will all four modes of transport — air, water, rail and road — be integrated?

Ajay Mishra (BJP) hails the Bill.  He says overspeeding is the main cause for many road accidents. It must be checked. He also says drunken driving must be checked. He pitches for setting up one driving school in every block to impart road safety rules to drivers.  His speech is cut short, but he continues to speak.

Lok Sabha| 1:45 pm

Kotha Prabhakar Reddy (TRS) says spare parts of vehicles are not available even if these companies are functioning for more than 15 years. This should also be addressed. He also speaks about duplicate spare parts.

Parking is a big problem. How are we going to address it, since we don;t have enough space earmarked for public parking, he says.

Lok Sabha| 1:30 pm

Kunwar Danish Ali (BSP) says many lives are involved in the issuance of one driving license. He says driving licenses should not be granted easily. He supports the Bill, saying more safety provisions should be introduced in the Bill. Where public transport is concerned, the government tends to withdraw itself, he says. "It is a good thing that the Road Transport Minister has a great vision," he adds. Double-decker buses and vehicles run by electricity should be introduced in the first phase of implementation, he says.

"Many times, toll gates have permanent barriers on the exempted lanes meant for ambulances," he says. Untrained drivers and conductors, and illegal transport should be looked into.

Lok Sabha| 1:00 pm

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill is under consideration.

Sri Krishna Devarayulu (YSRCP) says utmost care needs to be taken during issuance of driving license. He lends his support to he Bill on behalf of his party, hailing it as "progressive".

Prataprao Jadhav, Shiv Sena, supports the Bill. He asks that health check-ups for drivers over 40 years of age be undertaken, saying low-sugar issues and heart troubles while driving could pose significant threats. He asks for separate parkings for motor-cycles and four-wheelers in rural areas as well as urban ones.  He also asks for hospitals every 50 km on the national highways.

He asks if benefits given by State Transport will be among the benefits given by vehicles run by private agencies.

Kaushalendra Kumar, JD(U), says there are about 30 lakh bogus driving licenses in the country. About 5 lakh fatal road accidents happen in the country every year. However, 3-4% reduction in road accidents has been recorded of late, he says. He discusses accidents caused by murders that occur over parking rows, and similar non-adherence to traffic rules. He says the Bill provides for immediate redress to the families of persons deceased in road accidents and introduces provisions to censure those who employ underage drivers and those talking over cellphones while driving. He calls these provisions commendable. He ends by lending his support to the Bill.

Chandrani Murmu, BJD, welcomes the government's proposal to start driving-training institutions in every country. She draws the attention of the House to the fact that the central government will set the norms for compliance to safety standrads and such other measures, which is not in accordance with the Sundar Committee recommendation that these norms not be set by the same authority that sets norms for maintenance and construction of roads, which, in this case, is the NHAI under the central government.

Lok Sabha | 12.45 pm

"Can you say why the rich will ride the cars and the poor will come under cars?"

Sougata Roy (Trinamool) begins his speech by quoting the above verse in Bengali. Mr. Roy says there is an urgent need for a separate National Urban Transport Policy and National Highway Transport Policy. He says in urban areas, cars have to be removed and people should be shifted to public transport.

Lauding the hike in penalty, he says he is moving an amendment on vehicles to be fined for not giving way for ambulance. The law is good but the enforcement has to be done by the State Police. So you leave this to the States and do hand holding, if needed, he suggests.

He also says corruption in RTO will now be transferred to the dealers. The Centre has opened gates to private players to freely operate public transport, he says.

I have objection in only five clauses. The parliamentary standing committee too highlighted this. We too want our highways to be dream highways. Take States on board, he says while ending the speech.

Rajya Sabha| 12:35 pm

Lok Sabha continues its discussion on Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Kanimozhi (DMK) says she has concerns on the Bill, since none of the amendments suggested by parliamentary standing committee has been included in the Bill.

The Minister says the States can opt out, but it is only a promise and not mentioned in Bill. She accuses the government of infringing on the States' rights. As she speaks, Nitin Gadkari walks in, "I was complimenting you, when you were not here," she tells him.

She says the road transport in Tamil Nadu is run by the State. It is not a profit-making corporation, but we wanted to ensure last mile connectivity. If private players are encouraged, they will only think about profits, she claims.  When the State is doing well, why should the Centre intervene, she asks pointing out that Tamil Nadu has reduced road accidents.

With just ₹314 crore budget allocation, how will the government reduce road safety, she asks.

Doing away with mandatory education for drivers will only lead to promoting illiteracy, she warns and seeks to remove the clause.

Lok Sabha| 12:30 pm

War of words between Treasury bench and Opposition members. Pandemonium in the House.

External Affairs Minister makes a statement. He is barely audible as opposition members raise slogans. Mr. Jaishankar repeats the words he spoke in Rajya Sabha.

Home Minister Amit Shah suggests the External Affairs Minister reads the statement again. He reads it again. It's audible now.

Opposition members walk out of Lok Sabha demanding that Mr. Modi should respond to President Trump’s remarks.

Lok Sabha| 12:20 pm

Zero Hour in Lok Sabha. Manish Tewari (Congress) raises the issue of Trump's claim. He reads out the transcript of what the U.S. President said.

He says Mr. Trump said it's a terrible situation in Kashmir, there is bomb wherever you go. "The interaction was between the President and the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister must make a statement in the floor of the House," he says. "PM should say President Trump is lying," he says.

Sougata Roy (Trinamool) says Mr. Trump's statement is a contradiction to India's stand. The Prime Minister has compromised with the national security, he adds. Mr. Roy too insists on statement from the Prime Minister.

"The President (of US) has gone on record. We don;t want anyone to interfere on our foreign policy. It is between Trump and him. So The PM has to reply," T.R. Baalu (DMK) says.

Lok Sabha| 12:15 pm

The Code of Wages Bill, 2019 is being introduced in Lok Sabha.

N.K. Premachandran (RSP) seeks to send the Bill to a parliamentary standing committee. Adhirranjan Chowdhury and Sougata Roy too agree with him.

Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Mos Labour and Employment, says his ministry has put in five years efforts on the Bill.

This code will effect changes in 13 Acts. Please send it to the Standing Committee, Mr. Premachandran requests again.

Mr. Roy says the Bill will not help workers but will benefit corporates.

The Bill is introduced.

Rajya Sabha | 12.00 pm

Rajya Sabha reassembles. Opposition members raise slogans demanding statement from Prime Minister. Deputy Chairperson Harivansh is in the Chair. He proceeds with the Question Hour, despite sloganeering.

A couple of questions are taken up amid sloganeering. Mr. Harivansh requests the opposition members to stop sloganeering.

House is adjourned till 2 pm.

Lok Sabha| 12:00 pm

The question under consideration pertains to investment in food processing industry.

Hemant Patil, Shiv Sena, asks for cold storage facilities in Hingoli, Maharashtra.

Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Minister, Food Processing Industries, takes a dig at the earlier UPA government, calling it "corrupt".

Question Hour concludes. Papers are laid on the table.

Lok Sabha | 11:25 am

Ravi Kishan, BJP, says he never got any monetary incentive from the Mayawati government, refuting an earlier allegation of his having received Rs. 50,000.

Shashi Tharoor says India has 17% of the world's cattle but only 2% of the world's land. "Our government exports about 20 lakh tons of DORB and other farm residue to the global poultry indutry," he says.

Giriraj Singh, Minister, Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries, says there is an existing scheme to get seeds to farmers.

The question under consideration is regarding to support to women farmers under MKSP.

Dr. Heena V. Gavit, BJP, says capacity-building scheme for women farmers is commendable but there exists a gap between the number of women trained and the number that participates in cultivation.

Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Minister for Rural Development, U.P. says agriculture is incomplete without women's participation. "There is huge contribution from women in food processing sector," she says.

Dr. Gavit reiterates her question on the training gap.

Narendra Singh Tomar, Minister for Rural Development, says under the MKSP over 34 lakh women have been benefited so far. "Capacity-building and training is an ongoing process and it will continue," he says.

Mr. Tomar says aside from the skill-development ministry initiated by Narendra Modi, there is another scheme that is run by banks and rural development ministry.

The next question under consideration pertains to demand and supply of fertilisers.

Kapil Moreshwar Patil, BJP, says zero-budget farming does not require fertilisers, so if farmers are to enagage in it in the future, fertiliser subsidy should go directly to the farmers' accounts.

D.V. Sadananda Gowda, Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers, responds, saying minimum usage of fertilisers is being aimed at by this governement. "A committee has been formed to work out the modalities," he says.

Mr. Gowda adds that the aim is to implement 100% indigenous production of fertilisers. Fertiliser factories in Gorakhpur and other places if revived will remove any external dependency where fertiliser is concerned, he says.

Rajya Sabha | 11.20 am

Jaishankar categorically denies Trump's statement

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar speaks in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar speaks in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: RSTV

 

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar responds. No such request was made by the Prime Minister to the U.S. President, he says.

"I would like to reiterate that India's position is that all issues with Pakistan will be discussed only bilaterally and no third party will be involved in mediation. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism," he says.

The Shimla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally. "I hope there is no confusion in the mind of anybody," he says.

Opposition insists on response from the Prime Minister. "Do you have more confidence on the American President than the Indian Prime Minister?" Chair asks Opposition Bench.

House is adjourned till 12 noon.

Rajya Sabha | 11.10 am

The same issue of Mr. Trump's comments is raised in Rajya Sabha. Anand Sharma (Congress) takes up the issue. "This is a serious issue. We have always maintained Kashmir is a bilateral issue and no third party mediation will be entertained," he says and demands the Prime Minister to answer.

This is a national issue, a sensitive issue. The country's integrity and security is involved. We need to speak in one voice, the Chair says.

D. Raja (CPI) says he agrees with the Chair. Is there a change in the government's stand on Kashmir, he asks. The denial by EAM official is not enough. The PM must clarify, he says.

Lok Sabha| 11.05 am

Lok Sabha assembles. Congress raises slogans. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury raises the issue of U.S. President Trump's claims. "India has bowed before the U.S.," he claims. We are not weak. The PM must reply, he says.

Speaker says he has received adjournment notice. He assures the members that it can be discussed during the Zero Hour.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi says the External Affairs Minister will make a statement. "We all know who took the issue to the United Nations," he says in a veiled dig at former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

There shouldn't be any politics. This is a serious issue. We have to have a constructive debate. Let's discuss this after Question Hour, the Speaker says.

Mr. Chowdhury insists the PM should reply. "Government will decide on who will reply," the Chair says.

Rajya Sabha| 11.00 am

Rajya Sabha assembles. Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu is in the Chair. He begins the proceedings by congratulating Hima Das for winning four gold medals.

10:50 am

Even as the Ministry of External Affairs rejected the U.S. President's offer to mediate in Kashmir issue, Congress member Kodikunnil Suresh has sought adjournment to discuss the issue.

He has given an adjournment notice in Lok Sabha over ‘US President Trump's claim that PM Modi asked him to mediate on Kashmir’.

EAM S. Jaishankar to give a statement in both Houses of Parliament on US president Trump’s claims that PM Modi asked for mediation on the issue of Kashmir.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 7:02:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/parliament-proceedings-live-updates-budget-session-july-23-2019/article28669214.ece

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