The first half of Wednesday's session witnessed an adjournment in the Lok Sabha and an apology in the Rajya Sabha.
During the latter half, Lok Sabha took up a discussion of floods in various parts of the country. The Rajya Sabha passed the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill.
Here are the live updates:
Agriculture MoS Gajendra Singh Shekawat is called for a full reply. Opposition members seek clarifications from Mr. Rijiju. Chair tells them it's not a Q&A session and the Minister has replied.
House is extended till the Minister's reply.
Protests from Oppn benches over the Minister's long-winding reply. And he says it's the State govt's responsibility to implement farm insurance.
Minister takes a dig at member Pappu Yadav quoting statistics.
Concludes his speech.
Chair allows three Kerala members one enquiry each.
Mr. Venugopal wants a clear cut clarification on the funds which are going to be given.
Mavelikkara MP Suresh Kodikunnil wants to know what measures are taken for Kuttanadu area.
CPI(M) member Karunakaran wants to know about the waiver he sought for Kerala.
Radha Mohan Singh, in reply, details the procedure to allocate funds.
Mr. Rijiju comes back with his distinction of immediate relief and long term reconstruction. And assures Kerala that justice will be done.
With that the House is adjourned for the day.
MoS Kiren Rijiju is called to reply. Protests from Kerala members. Chair says enough time has been given.
Mr. Rijiju says monsoon hit three days in advance, resulting in unprecedented rain in Kerala and other parts. No State is discriminated in release of funds, he says while seeking to distinguis between immediate relief and long term reconstruction funds. He says an inter-Ministerial team has been constituted and will soon visit Kerala.
He moves on to weather forecast issue, as pointed out by many members. We do all kind of forecast, he says. Cites 14th Finance Commission to stress on the limits for giving relief. Twenty one States and UTs have reported damages and losses due to floods, he says.
While the SDRF fund will be allocated as per rules and relief after the central team's visit will be on top of the SDRF relief, he says.
His claim is objected to by Kerala members. K. C. Venugopal says nothing happened to the promises made during the Okhi cyclone.
Mr. Rijiju pats himself on the back that he has been designated disaster champion from the Asia region “because of the work we do”.
CPI(M) member Karunakaran wants a waiver of norms for Kerala as it faced two disasters in a six-month period.
Mr. Rijiju says it is a joint effort and says we have had a quantum jump in central assistance.
The Minister now moves on to the drought situation. Intervention from Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.
Mr. Rijiju is back. Gives out central relief figures to States to reiterate his point that there was no discrimination in releasing funds and concludes his speech.
P.K. Sreemathi Teacher (CPI(M), Kannur, Kerala) is called to speak. Ms. Teacher reads out the loss and damage stats in Kerala in general and her region in particular. A special financial assistance scheme is needed for Kerala and her Kannur region, Ms. Teacher says in conclusion.
Ajay Misra (BJP, Kheri, U.P.) wants a permanent solution to the flooding issue. He points at a dam built on Saradha river in Nepal. Wants Pancheswar project completion, channel in Saradha dam, linking of Saradha river with the Yamuna and silt removal in rivers including Saryu.
Idukki MP Joice George (Independent) raises to speak. Seeks a special package for Idukki to tackle the flood situation.
Sushil Kumar Singh (BJP, Aurangabad, Bihar) says though the discussion is about floods in other regions, southern Bihar, where he is from, is reeling under a drought.
Mr. Singh cites statistics to drive home his point, and wants welfare programmes to completed promptly to tide over the situation.
According to India Meteorological Department data, Bihar has recorded the highest monsoon deficiency of 48%, while eastern Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand have recorded 46% and 42% respectively.
‘Four pages and four minutes’
Prem Das Rai (SDF, Sikkim), wants the bell should not go as he has four pages and four minutes. Chair tells him to stay within the time limit.
Mr. Rai wants a Ministry for Climate Change and some form of insurance scheme that goes down to the grassroots level. He says a NE Monsoon gets shifted by a month, that should be factored in the planning process.
Glacial lakes flooding, cloudbursts, landslides and earthquakes in the NE region should be factored in whenever disasters and disaster management is discussed, Mr. Rai says and concludes his speech.
CPI member and Thrissur MP Jayadevan speaks. He says the plantain plantation has been completely destroyed in his constituency.
Kamakhya Prasad Tasa (BJP) says one third of Assam is affected by floods.
Jayaprakash Yadav (RJD) says Bihar is facing drought and floods back-to-back. The groundwater has also gone down. He wants the State to be declared drought-hit. The State is deprived of Special Category and Special Package. Even the promises of linking Bihar rivers were not fulfilled, he says.
Lok Sabha continues its debate on floods. Regional parties utilise the opportunity to highlight the problems faced in their region and demand more funds to the State.
The debate also emphasises the plight of farmers due to inconsistent monsoon. Climate change was another topic mentioned.
Premachandran is the fourth speaker from Kerala to speak on floods. Irrespective of party lines they highlight the devastating effect of the flood in the State and seek additional funds.
Sea wall construction should be incorporated in the National Disaster Management, Mr. Premachandran says. India accounts one-fifth of flood-related deaths, he says quoting World Bank report.
There must be a long term approach. Ignoring the ecological impact, we are looking at GDP. We must have a separate discussion on climate change, he says.
He makes the following suggestions: Wetland and paddy conservation Act must be enacted. Desilting of dams and reservoirs. There must be a ban on river sand mining for 10 years. A contingency national plan has to be formulated
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Goel announces a Select Panel has been formed to look into Ancient Monuments Amendment Bill. He says the panel will submit its report on August 3.
Ghulam Nabi Azad wants the Bill should taken only in the next session since it's too little time to scrutinise an important bill.
Anand Sharma says the Select Committee needs more time. The Chair asks the minister to rework the schedule and come back tomorrow.
Rajya Sabha takes up special mentions. The Chair requests to table the mentions due to paucity of time.
House is adjourned for the day.
Mr. Goyal says that the Enforcement Directorate will be the investigative authority under this Bill.
He says that proceedings are terminated when the person appears in court, as under this Bill they cannot be prosecuted, but they will be under existing laws.
He asks that the House pass the Bill.
The Bill is taken into consideration. Clause-by-clause consideration begins.
The Fugitive Economic Offender Bill, 2018 is passed by the Rajya Sabha.
Finance Minister Piyush Goyal responds. He thanks all the participants. He hopes every Bill goes through this kind of constructive debates.
The Bill was brought in to keep up the spirit of United Nation Convention against corruption, Mr. Goyal says.
We have signed extradition treaties with 48 countries. We will use diplomatic channels to bring back fugitives from countries where we don't have such treaties yet, he says.
On the threshold of Rs. 100 crore, Mr. Goyal says the clause was introduced to focus speedy investigation on large offenders. This doesn't mean smaller offenders will be let off, he says adding that large offences will be handled by special courts so that serious offenders will be handled effectively.
Is this a civil law or criminal law? It is to prevent criminal offence, he says.
On search, seizure and detention, the procedures of Prevention of Money Laundering Act will apply in this law too.
Mr. Goyal refutes questions on legality of the Bill, the property won't be confiscated if the offender comes back. He will have to face the regular trial to prove his innocence, he says.
We aren't stopping an offender his right to use the court. The Bill uses 'may' and not 'shall'. It will be upto the court to decide on pending cases, he says.
Jose K. Mani (Kerala Congress-M) makes his debut speech. He says the Bill is too little, too late. This Bill doesn't provide anything new on the the plate. Their are so many laws but the number of criminals also rise. We need the will from the government to bring the offenders behind the bars.
The Kingfisher House was put on auction several times, but no bidders came forward. Is it because we don't have enough money? It's because of nexus, he claims.
While the existing criminal laws gives 30 days for an offender to present himself in front of the court. But this Bill mentions six weeks. This should be reduced to 10 days, he says.
The Clause 49A is against the spirit of constitution, he says.
Pratap Simha, Mysuru MP, says due to rains Cauvery is in full flow. Karnataka has released water to Tamil Nadu, he says. Thambi Durai, who is in the Chair, says we have to thank the rain god for it, otherwise you wouldn't release water. He asks Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, too to join the issue. Mr. Kumar, a Karnataka member, smiles.
Mr. Simha says people in Coorg won't sing 'rain, rain, go away' rhyme because we love rains. He claims the State government of Karnataka hasn't done much to Coorg region. He says the Congress has captured power through back-door. Members object.
He targets K.C. Venugopal, the Karnataka in-charge for Congress. Congress members object to it. Mr. Simha claims almost Rs. 6000 crores were given to Karnataka under NDRF. But the funds were not properly utilised.
He claims the Karnataka government neglecting Coorg and the Cauvery. He asks the Congress members from Karnataka to bring a State delegation to Centre seeking assistance for development.
Ram Gopal Yadav congratulates Kahkashan Parveen for occupying the Chair, making her the only woman after Najma Heptulla to occupy the Chair.
He wonders how people managed to get thousands of crores of loans when he was asked to pledge his land worth few crore to get a loan worth few lakhs! There are many people who have usurped public money in the name of chit funds and reside in the same country, but no action has been taken yet.
The law will be a haven for lawyers. An offender, if he hires a good lawyer, can escape for prosecution, he says. He wants to ensure such offenders wouldn't be able to avail loans in future.
Cloud 'transfer' technology
Veena Devi, MP from Bihar, wants to declare her State as drought-hit. Even the minister is from our State. I hope he takes note of it, she says.
Kirit Solanki (BJP) says rain is double whammy for farmers. Both deficit and excess rainfall affects farmers, he says. He thanks the government for assuring the House that the plight of farmers will be addressed.
Mr. Solanki claims he knows of a technology that can "transfer clouds from one part to another". It will be highly helpful in our country where one region is facing floods, while another is facing drought. He wants the government to consider using this technology.
CPI member Binoy Viswom says Vijay Mallya, Mehul Choksi and Nirav Modi would be laughing seeing the debate as they know this law cannot do anything against them. He accuses the government of helping offenders to flee the country with the Rs. 100 crore clause. He calls the Bill thoothless.
These economic offenders are byproducts of globalisation. By keeping mum on globalisation and favouring it, economic offences cannot be curbed. Markets have helped economic offenders, he says.
Jithender Reddy (TRS) says States shouldn't be fighting for water citing examples of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. When he begins to elaborate, the Chair says his time has ended.
After requests, he is allowed to speak. Mr. Reddy says some districts in Telangana received heavy rainfall, while others received lesser rainfall. He claims the State government took steps to ensure no floods occurred in the last three years. He highlights how the Kakatiya Dynasty implemented irrigation and the government is reviving water bodies under the ancient King's name.
Where was Mallya sitting in the House?
Mahant Shambuprasadji (BJP) says he has the dubious distinction of occupying the seat of Vijay Mallya, currently a fugitive offender but formerly a Rajya Sabha member. He goes on to say every member in the House prior to 2014 would have taken photos with Mr. Mallya.
Members object to it. Anand Sharma says it is factually wrong to say he occupies the same seat of Mr. Mallya and undermines the House that every member is associated with him. He requests the member to refrain from making such comments.
Kahkashan Parveen is in the Chair.
Cyclones, earthquakes and droughts cause damage. Likewise AP reorganisation Act causes damage to the region, says M. Srinivas Rao of TDP. He goes on to talk how the Act is unfair to the State.
YSR Congress member picks hole in the single transaction clause. If an offender has three cases pending in Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata to the tune of Rs. 98 crores each, he will be let off according to this Bill.
Rajeev Gowda (Congress) asks why will a foreign jurisdiction allow Indian law to be implemented in their soil, he asks. Foreign nation may raise issues such as state of Indian prisons or human rights. Government should fix these problems in anticipation, he says.
Economic offenses don't occur in vacuum. It a nexus between bankers, benamis and bureaucrats. The Bill is silent on this nexus, he says.
The clause barring accused not to be part of civil cases is unconstitutional, he says. I challenge Piyush Goyal to bring back at least one offender by 2019, or else hang your head in shame, he says.
Kalyan Banerjee (Trinamool Congress) says West Bengal too bore the brunt of floods since it is a lower riparian State.
Kalikesh Narayan Deo (BJD) highlights the regional imbalance. The eastern India didn't reap the benefits of Green revolution. The Prime Minister speaks of second green revolution. Hope the east benefits now.
Adverse effects of climate change are borne by coastal and eastern regions. The government doesn't seem to take a serious view of climate change, he says.
Harivansh (JD-U) quotes a Supreme Court ruling says the government is doing nothing when people are not respecting the law. He recalls how the POTA was repealed and wants the government should ensure that this law is not repealed.
He compares fugitive offenders to British who colonised India and left the country.
AIADMK member Mahendran speaks in Tamil. He says the Centre hasn't disbursed the money sought to tackle drought. He also wants farm loans and education loans taken by farmers should be waived off.
He also presents a list of demands on behalf of his constituency, Pollachi.
Will the Bill pass scrutiny of law?
In Rajya Sabha, Neeraj Shekar (SP) says he supports the Bill but fears the law could be misused. Government machinery are being used against political rivals, he alleges.
Navaneethakrishnan (AIADMK) says failure to appear before the court for three consecutive times must be made an offence.
Prasanna Acharya (BJD) says he supports the Bill there are some legality issues. No individual can be penalised without conviction. So will it pass the scrutiny of law, he asks. Sukendhu Shekar Ray also pointed out this conflict.
While the laws say a person is not guilty until proven, but the Bill approves confiscation of property after a person is charged. it is this conflict members are speaking about.
K.C. Venugopal speaks. He was elected from Alappuzha, a district worst affected from floods. He says despite his bad health, he came to the House today to speak about the plight of his people. "They are living in bunds," he says. Kerala is facing back-to-back wrath, he says referring to floods and Ockhi cyclone.
In Kuttanad, the land is below the sea-level and the place is frequently flooded every time it rains, he says.
The Centre has only approved what the NDRF gives. The State should get more. Even the funds promised at the time of Ockhi have not been disbursed, he says.
Sanjay Jaiswal (BJP) says while Kerala is facing floods, we in Bihar are staring at drought. Blaming climate change for the situation, he says all of us to take the blame for this.
Mr. Jaiswal blames NGT's ban on coal extraction for the drought. The rainwater would be saved in the lakes. When extraction was stopped the natural flow of water was affected and tiger sanctuary was flooded leaving no space for groundwater.
He thanks Mr. Modi and his government for helping Bihar during last year's floods.
The functioning of Indian Meteorological Department is not satisfactory. The cyclone warning is not functioning well. We suffered during Okhi (cyclone) too, says P. Karunakaran, CPI (M) during a debate on floods.
An all party delegation from Kerala placed seven demands to the Prime Minister. I am sorry to say there was no positive reply, he says. Even the BJP State president came with us, he adds.
Members on both the sides argue.
Kiren Rijiju, MoS Home, says he visited Kerala on Prime Minister's direction.
Karunakaran wants Kerala floods to be declared national clamity. The Centre should increase compensation. National Mitigation Fund should be used. Defence stations should be provided with motorised boats. Indian Air Force should be allowed permanent posting in the districts. Kerala needs a flood warning station. Aftermath such as health, water, infrastructure and rehabilitation must be addressed. We need a long term measures to address landslides in hilly area.
This is not the question of politics but that of livelihood of people, he says ending his speech.
Bhupender Yadav (BJP) is the next speaker. Quoting the white paper released during UPA government, he says black money cannot be dealt without stringent laws. Mr. Yadav takes credit for bringing SIT on black money and Insolvency Code.
There are thirty economic offenders who have fleed the country, Mr. Yadav says.
Satyanarayana Jatia is in the Chair. He reminds Vivek Tankha of the time limit. Anand Sharma objects to it. He says the matter was discussed in the Business Advisory Committee and members must be allowed to speak.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Goel says Mr. Sharma is right but the Chair has to make the decision on time.
Chair allows Mr. Tankha to speak. He continues his speech. He says he is supporting the Bill but could be improved.
Lok Sabha reconvenes. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar requests the House to take up a discussion on floods and drought situation in various parts of the country.
P. Karunakaran initiates the discussion paying homage to flood victims. He claims the Kerala floods are unprecedented, and Alappuzha and Kozhikode are worst affect. People are living in 325 camps set up by the State. Many areas are completely inundated. The floods have taken toll on fisheries too.
Vivek Tankha (Congress) initiates the debate. He says only 10 per cent of black money is outside India. What has the government done to get back the money in India? he asks.
Mr. Tankha wants to know why a threshold of Rs.100 crores. Are we not being strict enough for offenders who fall within Rs. 100 crore offence?
Are we a country that make too many laws with little implementation? He claims there are too many parallel laws. He also wonders while there is a paucity of judges, how effective special courts would be.
Mr. Tankha wants to know if the Bill will have retrospective effect. The real test is if any fugitive would come back, he says. This law is too little and too late. You are confiscating the property, why would a fugitive come back, he asks.
In a rare case, the Chair comments on the Bill. We are aware on what is happening in the country. I hope the legal lumanaries here can shed light on this. The people want to know if confiscation of the properties, criminal prosecution and bringing the accused back to India will be possible, he asks.
Who is a fugitive economic offender?
According to Section 4 of the law, a ‘fugitive economic offender’ is “any individual against whom a warrant for arrest in relation to a scheduled offence has been issued by any court in India, who:
(i) leaves or has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution; or
(ii) refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.”
Rajya Sabha reconvenes. Very few members are in the House. After ensuring quorum, the Chair allows Finance Minister to move the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, 2017.
Piyush Goyal moves the Bill ans tells the House the purpose of the Bill is to bring back fugitive economic offenders and stop such people to flee the country. The existing civil and criminal laws are inadequate in dealing with such fugitive economic offenders, he says.
Mr. Goyal reads out the salient features of the Bill.
Dharam Vira Gandhi of AAP speaks in Punjabi.
Suresh Kodikunnil of the Congress asks for a National Welfare Corporation for Dalit Christians. An AIADMK Member speaks about the Chennai suburban train accident, and asks for an inquiry into the matter and compensation.
Supriya Sule of the NCP speaks of the Maratha agitation.
Bhartruhari Mahtab of the BJD speaks about formaldehyde in fresh fish.
House is adjourned till 2.25 p.m.
House reconvenes and Zero Hour continues.
A TDP Member speaks in Telugu. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar says the PM, in his reply to the no-confidence motion, had detailed what the Centre has done for Andhra Pradesh.
MoS Labour and Employment Santosh Kumar Gangwar answers a question on job opportunities for women. Next, Hansraj Gangaram Ahir, MOs Home Affairs answers questions on criminals in jails involved in criminal activities.
Majid Memon asks what the government is planning to do about overcrowding in prisons. He also asks what the government is doing about murders inside prisons. The Minister says that law is taking its course as far as murders in prisons are considered. On overcrowding, Mr. Ahir says a new jail has been created in Delhi. The government is establishing new jails, he says.
Jairam Ramesh asks a question on EPFO. He says that India has sought the unemployment problem. When will this data be made available to the public, asks Mr. Ramesh.
Anubhav Mohanty of the BJD asks why airlines put restrictions on baggage. Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu says that this is so passenger fare reduces eventually. He says the DGCA has a very limited power.
Nominated Member Swapan Dasgupta asks about Rohingya refugees coming in to India. Anand Sharma of the Congress says the refugee crisis is both regional and international. He asks if it’s true that India is engaged in resolving the refugee crisis. Rajnath Singh says that discussions have happened between the External Affairs Minister and Myanmar. Mr. Singh says that the Centre has asked States to detect and identify Rohingyas.
Nominated MP Roopa Ganguly asks what the Centre will do if the State doesn’t follow directives.
House is adjourned till 2 p.m. Chair urges Members to be back in time for quorum.
Mallikarjun Kharge moves a privilege motion against the Prime Minister, and Jyotiraditya Scindia moves a privilege motion against Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Speaker says it is under consideration.
Zero Hour begins.
Papers are laid on the table.
Slogananeering begins almost immediately.
House is adjourned till 12.30 p.m.
Question Hour begins.
K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao asks a question on the forcible recruitment of children into armed groups. Motilal Vora of the Congress cites a UN report on the State governments. Kiren Rijiju, Mos for Home Affairs says there is no armed conflict in India, but there are some illegal groups carrying out activities in India using children.
Independent MP Amar Singh asks what the government is doing to protect children from being taken by Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad.
The next question is on a national policy on bio-fuels. Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan says molasses are being used to create ethanol. Wherever there is broken rice, we use that also for ethanol production, he says.
Kirit Somaiya of the BJP asks the Railway Minister what the benefit and cost of the bullet train. Minister Piyush Goyal says that perishable products from farmers will reach their destinationa at high speeds.
Mallikarjun Kharge of the Congress asks if 500km costs ₹1 lakh crore, then will an ordinary consumer afford to use it? Mr. Goyal asks why the Opposition is upset, as the government has taken up a project that they (UPA) were not able to do.
Manoj Sinha, the MoS for Communications says the government is setting up WiFi hotspots in most public places.
Boora Narsaiah Goud of the TRS says that in Digital India programmes, broadband connectivity is poor. The Minister says that Telangana is doing its own work with financial assistance from the Centre.
Digvijaya Singh of the Congress raises the issue of contaminated water in the Narmada river.
Binoy Viswam, a CPI Member from Kerala says that normal life has been affected for the past many weeks due to flooding.
BJP Member Rajeev Chandrasekhar says that the lakses of Bengaluru are dying, because of the apathy of the government. He requests intervention by the Environment Ministry.
Prasanna Acharya of the BJD rises to speak about the non-payment of crop insurance claims.
Congress member Venugopal asks about call drops and expansion of 4G network. The Minister says Airtel and Jio have completely rolled out 4G services. State-run BSNL is providing 4G in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, we will expand soon, he says.
On call drops, the Minister says wireless networks are reason behind the issue. We are increasing optical network, it will end soon, he adds.
The House takes up the next question on promotion of BPOs. Minister for Electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad responds to a Member’s question on the number of units begun and jobs created.
Elumalai Vellaigounder of the AIADMK says BPOs are concentrated in urban areas. He asks the Minister if there are actions to take BPOs to rural areas. The Minister responds that in Tamil Nadu, BPOs are now in Madurai, Mayiladuthurai, Thirupatthur, Vellore and other such places.
Sushmita Dev of the Congress asks if the government plans to start a BPO in one of the three districts of the Barak valley in Assam. Ms. Dev represents the Silchar constituency. Mr. Prasad says that BPOs are now operating in Guwahati. He says requisite, eligible companies should file the bid.
BJD Member Arjun Charan Sethi asks the Minister to visit Odisha.
Narendra Jadhav (Nominated member) speaks about Chinese investment in Indian financial institutions. He says Alibaba has applied NBFC status through Paytm. The Chinese could capture the financial services sector. They could get access to personal data, which could jeopardise national security, he warns.
He also says 100 per cent FDI in NBFCs will destroy domestic financial services sector. Many members associate with him.
Member says sorry
YSR Congress Member Vijaisai Reddy regrets for what happened on Tuesday. He had argued with the Chair and complained that he wasn't given adequate time. "I am sorry for the incident that happened yesterday," he says.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad says whatever happened yesterday was unfortunate. Any issues could be taken up outside the House or during Business Advisory Committee but not with the Chair, he says.
The Chair asks the members to move on. He also points out members are not adhering to time limit. Citing the example of former Manmohan Singh, Mr. Naidu says the former Prime Minister used his alloted time to convey what he wanted to convey.
Piyush Goyal, Railways Minister, responds to questions on Adarsh Railway Stations. On a question if number of stops would be added to express trains, Mr. Goyal replies in negative saying additional stoppages will increase the delay and feasibility would be an issue. "We will still consider these proposal though," he says.
In Rajya Sabha Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu informs the House that T. Subbirami Reddy wouldn't be able to attend the rest of the session owing to ill-health. No amendments in the rest of the session, he remarks in a lighter vein. Mr. Reddy is known to bring numerous amendments to every government Bill.
Both Houses convene.
Lok Sabha takes up Question Hour. Ministers are laying statements pertaining to the ministry in Rajya Sabha.
The TDP members show placards demanding Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh.