A day after being elected as the Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha, Harivansh, presided over the business. On day one, he adjourned the House for five minutes as government and opposition engaged in war of words over introducing government bills on Friday, which is marked for Private Members business.
Congress protested in both Houses of the Parliament seeking a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe on the alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal.
Here are the live updates:
Most productive session for Lok Sabha since 2000
This Monsoon session of Parliament was the “most productive” for Lok Sabha since 2000, PRS Legislative Research has said. According to the data compiled by PRS Legislative Research, 20 bills were introduced during the session and 12 were passed. The Lok Sabha, it said, worked for 110% of the scheduled hours and the Rajya Sabha for 66%.
The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha spent 50% and 48% of their time on legislative business respectively, the data said.
While 8 hours 26 minutes of the session were marred by disruptions, the House sat almost 21 hours extra to discuss major issues during the session that began on July 18.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the government introduced 22 Bills and 21 were passed.
The significant legislation was on granting constitutional status to National Commission of Backward Classes. Another measure involved restoring the immediate arrest provision in the SC/ST Act.
Yet another Bill paved the way to enable the overseas electors to appoint proxies to cast their votes in the elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
The other important bills passed by the House include the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts (Amendment) Bill and Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill.
Mr. Naidu praises House
After Special Mentions, Mr. Naidu raises to deliver his concluding address.
He points out that while 14 bills were passed in this session alone, only 10 bills could be adopted during the last two sessions together.
“Going by the trend of the previous two sessions, the media had forecast that this would also be a washout. I am glad that for once, media has been proved wrong. I compliment all of you for the same, though it is not to my full satisfaction still,” Mr. Naidu says. He says the working of the session has brought delight to all the stake holders who believe in parliamentary democracy.
“With the productivity of more than 74% measured in the way of functional time available, this session proved to be three times more productive than the last Budget seesion whose productivity was just 25%,” Mr. Naidu says.
“This is a remarkable improvement and the credit goes to all of you,” he says, while referring to the “unanimous passage” of the bill to amend the SC/ST law, besides other legislations.
Observing that there was wide-ranging discussions on a variety of critical issues, he says the bills to act against economic offenders and to strengthen the law against corruption, which were passed during the session, were very crucial.
The Monsoon Session has proved that “a performing Parliament can deliver its mandate”, he says adding that he was deeply pained by the disruptions in the last two sessions.
While concluding his address, Mr. Naidu congratulates Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad for the heightened productivity and smooth functioning of the House.
Vande Mataram is played.
The House stands adjourned sine die.
Monsoon Session concludes.
After Mr. Prasad’s response, the Commercial Courts, Division & Appellate Division of High Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2018 is passed. Watch Mr. Prasad’s reply .
Mr. Prasad rakes up the Triple Talaq Bill issue and lashes out at the Congress for its non-passage. Chairman Naidu asks Mr. Parasad to sit down and stop. "Ravi what you say further won't go on record,” says Mr. Naidu ands calls for special mentions.
A defiant Mr. Prasad goes on, despite Mr. Naidu's repeated appeal.
Law and Justice Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad moves the Commercial Courts, Division & Appellate Division of High Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
Highlights of the Bill
- The Commercial Courts Act, 2015 provides for commercial courts and commercial divisions of high courts to adjudicate commercial disputes with a value of at least Rs. 1 crore. The Bill reduces this limit to Rs. 3 lakh.
- The Bill allows state governments to establish commercial courts at the district level, even in territories where high courts have ordinary original civil jurisdiction.
- In areas where high courts do not have original jurisdiction, state governments may set up commercial appellate courts at the district level to consider appeals from commercial courts below the level of a district judge.
Finance Minister Piyush Goyal responds. He says wilful defaulters will be dealt with iron hands. The haircut is only for genuine cases. The banks are given free hand, he adds.
The Bill goes for voting.
The Bill is passed.
Mahesh Poddar (BJP) says the Bill is a revolution. He gives three suggestions: to protect homebuyers, small investors and minority investors must be protected, and banks must be take lesser haircut.
Neeraj Shekar (SP) asks what was the necessity to bring an ordinance when the session was only days away.
S.R. Balasuramoniyam (AIADMK) says the perception is that the government is favouring the corporates.
Kahkashan Parween (SP) says while poor farmers are harassed for repaying their loans, the corporates are being left scot-free.
D. Raja (CPI) says the Bill will only help corporate houses. All these changes will only help the defaulters and not the banks. This government is bailing out defaulters while banks lose several crores.
Jairam Ramesh (Congress) points out that the bid value is lower than the liquidation value in some cases and this shouldn't be accepted.
He also says MSME sector is worst affected and it must be taken care of.
MoS P.P. Chowdhury introduces The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2018.
He gives a lengthy introduction for over 15 minutes on the benefits of the Bill that was already passed in Lok Sabha. The Bill seeks to replace an Ordinance.
Ravi Prasad Verma (SP) says Draupati in Mahabharata asked the council if she is a human being or a property of her husband. The council didn't reply then. The question is valid even today, Mr. Verma says to highlight the plight of a married woman in this society.
Mr. Verma's speech is passed and the amendments to Insolvency Code is taken up. Mr. Verma will continue the speech whenever the resolution is taken up in the Winter Session.
Sonal Mansingh (Nominated) says she supports the resolution. It is nice to see in this patriarchal world, a male members brings a resolution on women. She says the media shouldn't objectify women. She urges Jyotiba Phule's life must be part of school curriculam.
Amee Yagnik (Congress) says India has over 40 million widows and most of them lack social security cover. Dr. Yagnik says though legal protections are available, the widows don't have support to knock court doors. She also points out more oldage homes are coming up and this reflects the thinking of the society.
Tiruchi Siva (DMK) brings a resolution on plight of widows in India. He recalls he took this issue sometime ago during the Zero Hour.
According to the Census of 2011, the population of widows in India is 4,32,61,278 which accounts for 7.37 percent of the female population in India, which is the largest population of widows in the entire world, he says adding that nowhere in the world widows are discriminated.
Mr. Siva says though he is a widower there is no mark in him for the world to know that he has lost his wife. On the contrary, a woman has to remove her kumkum and in some places shave her head to let the world know she is a widow.
Quoting rationalist and social reformer Periyar, Mr. Siva says men and women should be treated equally.
Mr. Siva says he lost his father when he was just three-months old and his mother was only 29 years then. He recalls how his mother was discriminated then. He says widows are discriminated even now.
Mr. Siva says it is the husband's family that deserts the widows or send them to shelters in Vrindavan. If the family deserts a person, the government should take care of them, he says. He urges the government to bring a legislation to safeguard widows.
Mr. Siva lists out initiatives taken by the DMK government that includes widow re-marriage, reservation, scholarship and financial assistance to widows and their children.
In Rajya Sabha, D. Raja (CPI) targets Rakesh Sinha. He says the Communists strive for a casteless and classless society but reservations are affirmative actions needed to uplift the downtrodden, he says. Quoting Thiruvalluvar, Mr. Raja draws parallel to the Tamil poet-saint and Karl Marx. He goes on to ask who created Manu Dharma, Varna System and who created differences among people.
Minister for Social Justice Taawar Chaand Gehlot responds to the resolution. He says there is a procedure laid to add, delete or modify the Scheduled Caste lists. He agrees there is discrepancies over the spellings of castes and assures the House it will be looked into. He goes on to explain in length the initiatives taken by his ministry for the welfare of the SCs, STs and the Backward Classes. The Chair reminds him two more resolutions are pending and requests him to conclude soon.
Vishambar Prasad Nishad (SP), who brought the resolution, thanks members for supporting the resolution and asks to voting. The resolution is rejected by voice vote. Mr. Nishad insists on division. Mr. Gehlot requests the member not to insist on voting. But the Chair goes ahead with division.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad says resolutions usually don't go for voting. Ram Kripal Yadav says when Tiruchi Siva's Bill on transgenders can go for voting why not this one?
The Chair says once announced, division cannot be withdrawn. The resolution goes for voting. It is rejected through division.
The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018 goes for voting.
The Bill is passed.
Speaker Sumitra Mahajan makes valedictory remarks. She lists out the number of Bills passed, question raised and Zero Hour submissions made. The House sat beyond the stipulated time to finish the legislative business, she says adding that the monsoon session is more productive than the previous sessions.
Vande Mataram is played. Lok Sabha is adjourned sine die.
In Lok Sabha, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad responds. He says while some courts have institutional arbitration, this body will be a blend of both.
The Arbitration Council of India will be independent and will also encourage training of arbitrators. He says eminent persons must be encouraged to take up institutional arbitration. "We want to have a Bar for arbitration," he says.
We want India to be a hub for domestic and international arbitration, he adds.
In a lighter vein, Mr. Prasad says Prof. Sougata Roy would become an arbitrator after his political innings. Prof. Roy smiles.
Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) says reservation is a token to reform thousands of years of betrayal. It is still continuing to be a token, he says.
Rakesh Sinha (Nominated) welcomes the resolution and says this could have been brought with government's association when the Treasury Bench brought up amendments to the SC/ST Act. He claims the society wants to leave caste but politics doesn't allow this to happen.
Veer Singh (BSP) points out how people who migrate to another State face difficulties in obtaining community certificates and lose out benefits in the new State. He pitches for proportional representation. He demands reservation in private sector too.
C.K. Gohel says he is from fisherfolk community and goes on to say several States don't provide reservation to his community. Several members object to it. He says he'll withdraw statements mentioning State names. Mr. Gohel points out that fisherfolk lack unity. He urges they must help each other.
Chairperson M. Venkaiah Naidu informs the House that triple talaq Bill wouldn't be taken up in the House today.
After Private Members' resolution, two Bill will be discussed, he says without mentioning the name of those Bills.
Rajya Sabha reassembles. Opposition members insist on taking up private members resolution. Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu says Private Member's Bills will be taken up after government Bills.
Vishambar Prasad Nishad (SP) brings a Private Member resolution to bring a uniform reservation system in the whole country. He points out how the same caste is categorised as SC in one state, OBC in another and BC in the third State. He also points out how percentage of reservation varies among States.
Sunil Jakhar (Congress) says though the Bill is needed, the government is focusing on arbitration instead of looking at the plight of farmers. He asks if the Rafale Deal will make it to the proposed arbitration panel. He claims the biggest sore point in the deal is that a company formed just days before the Prime Minister's France visit, bags the Rafale deal.
Kalraj Mishra, who is in the Chair asks Mr. Jakhar to stick to the discussion on the Bill. Mr. Jakhar claims the Rafale deal will be the biggest arbitration after the Bhopal gas disaster. BJP members object to his remarks. "We are not yielding," says Congress leader Mallikharjun Kharge.
Lok Sabha reassembles. The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018 is introduced. MoS P.P. Chowdhury introduces the Bill.
The amendment provides for creation of an independent body namely the Arbitration Council of India (ACI) which will grade arbitral institution and accredit arbitrators. The ACI will be an independent body.
The Chairperson of ACI shall be a person who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice or Judge of any High Court or any eminent person. Further, the other Members would include an eminent academician etc. besides other Government nominees.
All arbitrations shall be completed within 12 months from the completion of the pleadings of the parties.
Jithender Reddy takes up the issue of EPS 95 pensioners. Mr. Reddy says the pensioners are getting meagre amounts, which will not help them in living a dignified life. He says the four demands of EPF-95 pensioners must be fulfilled.
Lok Sabha is adjourned. To meet again at 2:05 pm
Shrikant Shinde (Shiv Sena) says the benefits of differently-abled must be extended to those affected by haemophilia, sickle cell anemia and thalessimia.
Raghav Lakhanpal says the number of orphans in India is more than the population of Sri Lanka. He seeks reservation for such people.
Some prominent issues raised in Zero Hour are releasing pending funds to Punjab, railway bridge in West Bengal, railway station in Koderma, and compensation to people losing land in Sultanpur road expansion.
The mentions are barely audible since Congress members raise slogans seeking JPC probe into Rafale.
On Kerala floods
P. Karunakaran (CPI-M) raises the issue of Kerala floods. He seeks Centre and military assistance for relief and rescue.
K.C. Venugopal (Congress) says as many as 23 people have lost lives in the Kerala floods. He says all rivers are in spate. For the first time in 26 years, shutters of Idukki dam have been opened. He seeks special financial package to Kerala.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh says his junior minister Kiren Rijiju already visited the State. The Centre will provide all assistance needed, he adds. He also says he will speak to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Rajya Sabha reconvenes. Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu is in the Chair. Opposition continues its protest. Mr. Naidu recalls it was decided to take up government bills on Friday before declaring adjournment on Wednesday to mourn Karunanidhi's demise. Protests continue. House adjourned till 2:30 pm.
Lok Sabha continues with Question Hour. Questions were posed on State Banks in rural areas, CSR funds, Healthcare professionals in rural areas.
Question Hour ends. Members lay papers on table.
Derek O'Brien says parliamentary convention is Friday's are dedicated for Private Member's Bills. The government cannot introduce Bills today, he says.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister says the triple talaq Bill is important and hence it was discussed in the business advisory council (BAC) meet that it will be discussed today.
Anand Sharma (Congress) says the issue was not discussed in the BAC and demands the governement to table the minutes of the meeting.
Binoy Viswom (CPI) raises the issue of Kerala floods. This is the third in the past month Kerala is facing floods, he says. But members from both sides are trading charges. Mr. Viswom repeatedly requests to hear him. He continues to speak as the Chair says only his speech will go on record.
Bhupendra Yadav (BJP) says as per the Rules the government can table Bills on Friday.
On Day one, Mr. Harivansh adjourns the House till noon.
Sukhendu Shekar Roy (TMC) seeks to know when the museum on Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose will be constructed in the Capital.
Puducherry member N. Gokulakrishnan talks about vacancy in JIPMER-Karaikal that needs to be filled up. Congress members raise slogans seeking JPC on Rafale deal. The member's submission is barely audible.
Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) talks about atrocities against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh. He raises the issue of a Dalit boy harassed in a police station. He seeks probe into the incident.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad recalls there used to be at least two calling attention motion and one short duration discussion every week. But this session effectively ran only for 15 days. We have sought a discussion on Rafale, it has be considered. We have earlier instances of a JPC probe on serious allegations. It needs to be constituted in this case too, he adds.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Goel says the allegations are false and the Opposition doesn't have any proof. Such cases can't be discussed in the House, says Mr. Goel. Congress members protest.
In Rajya Sabha, Tiruchi Siva sings praise of former Tamil Nadu chief minister Karunanidhi. Recalling the landmark steps taken by the late politician, Mr. Siva requests government to confer Bharat Ratna to the DMK patriarch. Many members associate.
Anand Sharma (Congress) seeks a discussion on Rafale Deal under Rule 267. The Chair declines it saying the Vice President hasn't allowed the discussion. Members from both sides protest, accuses each other of corruption. After brief ruckus, all are seated.
In Lok Sabha questions are being raised on deaths of elephants in various parts of India. MoS for Forests Mahesh Sharma is responding. He says the government has increased the compensation to victims trampled by elephants to Rs. five lakhs. In consultation with the State governments, we are relocating families living near elephant sanctuaries.
Dinesh Trivedi asks if modern technology will be used to track the elephant movement, since many such mammals are dying on the tracks. Mr. Sharma agrees with Mr. Trivedi and says humans are encroaching elephant zones and not the other way.
Railways minister Piyush Goyal says trains slow down in demarcated zones. But elephants are using non-demarcated zones! He says he will consider the member's suggestion of incorporating Google Earth.
The Congress members, including Sonia Gandhi protest outside the Parliament premises seeking a joint parliamentary committee probe into the alleged irregularities in awarding the Rafale deal to Anil Ambani-led firm.