Lok Sabha is discussing The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, while the Rajya Sabha had a brief discussion on the role of social media in spreading rumours that led to lynching in various parts of India.
Here are the live updates:
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury says the government has been resorting to indiscriminate ordinances and democratic system is severely undermined. "You are using parliamentary ordinances as political ordinances to saffronise the establishments," he alleges.
Just because one person is alleged to have taken bribe, you cannot close down a council. There were allegations of bribery on Medical Council, you haven't shut down the MCI, he says.
Homeopathy is an important branch on alternative medicine. It is being connected with genetics these days. There is side-effects or toxicity in homeopathy. There is a huge potential in the medicine but you don't have any sympathy or empathy. You are only showing antipathy, he claims.
Why don't you affiliate homeopathy colleges to universities, he asks.
House is adjourned, will meet at 11 am on Monday.
Rajya Sabha takes up the National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The Bill was already passed in Lok Sabha.
Quoting a Vice Chancellor Devender Paul Vats says many don't opt to become teachers and those who aspire to become one want to work abroad. He also points out the eligibility tests are difficult to crack. A former member of Haryana Recruitment Board, Mr. Vats, says even if the salary is lower people prefer a government job over teaching.
As Mr. Vats ends his speech, Rajya Sabha is adjourned. The Bill will be taken up on the next working day.
Lok Sabha takes up The Homeopathy Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018. Ayush Minister Shripad Yesso NAik moves the Bill. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury opposes the Bill.
The Bill was brought in to replace an Ordinance that amended the 1973 Act. The Bill seeks to provide for the supersession of the Central Council with effect from May 18, 2018. The Central Council will be reconstituted within one year from the date of its supersession. In the interim period, the central government will constitute a Board of Governors, which will exercise the powers of the Central Council.
Shiv Pratap Shukla, MoS Finance, responds. On question who is liable if a government bank note gets dishonoured, Mr. Shukla says such situation will never arise.
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu is unhappy that members are not attending session. There is quorum so proceedings continue.
The Bill goes for voting.
Rajya Sabha passes the Bill
Maneka Gandhi gives her second round of response. She says the Bill was read out to over 30 countries by Kailash Sathyarthi and they said it's better than their country's laws.
Whatever is not in the Bill will be added to the rules, she assures.
Begging and body harming are already part of the Bill. The States are also consulted.
Now, the Bill goes for voting.
Amendments moved by Premachandran, Thathagatha Satpathy and Sreemathy is negative.
The Bill is passed.
Maneka Gandhi now addresses Mr. Tharoor saying that it is a pity that the Member did not share his wisdom in the two years of the drafting process.
Ms. Gandhi says that during consultations there were two kinds of people — those who represent victims, and those who represent sex workers. She says that Shashi Tharoor came to her representing sex workers.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (Congress) quotes experts who have expressed reservation on the Bill, which is said to be in conflict with global human rights laws.
Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) says the Bill involves state governments. Were the state governments been consulted prior to be introduced?
Meenakshi Lekhi (BJP) says aggravated form of offence should include begging, grievously hurting them should be added.
A member says parents of mentally retarded children must be exempted from the bill.
Pratima says repatriation process must be taken care of.
Maneka Gandhi gets a rare praise from Saugata Roy (Trinamool) for her response. Will the minister consider promoting films to highlight the problem of trafficking? According to the Bill, the NIA will handle cases. Can a different body be created to handle these cases?
Sreemathy Teacher (CPI-M) wants the Bill should include cybercrime exploitation too.
The Minister says that agency of victims will be taken into account.
She says the law is victim-centric and gives full protection to victims. “The only new body proposed is the National Anti-Trafficking body.” She says begging is an aggravated crime because it involves continuous violence.
Ms. Gandhi says the Ministry is also considering changing conditions for women prisoners with children. Sumitra Mahajan is in the Chair.
AIADMK MP M. Thambidurai speaks about the State government’s Cradle Baby Scheme and says that Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao is inspired from it. Ms. Gandhi agrees that the Centre has learnt a lot from Tamil Nadu and has implemented Cradle Baby Scheme in all parts of India.
Key points made by members debating the anti-trafficking bill:
Rajesh Ranjan (RJD): The law seems good but how are you going to implement. When you bring out a person from trafficking, he ends up going back if he is unable to find alternate source of earning.
Sreemathi Teacher (CPI-M): Trafficking must include forced marriages also.
Satabdi Roy (Trinamool): Children over six years are being separated from their mothers in camps housing Bangladeshi migrants. Many mothers have approached me wanting to know about their children.
Kaushalendra Kumar (RJD): Agents who facilitate such trafficking must be severely punished.
Dushyant Chautala (INLD): Local police are hand-in-gloves with traffickers. Rehabilitation homes are also in the news of perpetrating sexual assaults.
Minister Maneka Gandhi rises to reply to Members’ concerns about the Bill. Kalraj Mishra is in the Chair. Ms. Gandhi speaks about the Childline and Railway Childline helplines.
“Every exercise book of every school has the POCSO Act behind it to teach children about good and bad touched,” says Ms. Gandhi. She adds that trafficking for the purpose of being forced into marriage is an offence.
She responds to Supriya Sule’s concerns about the sensitisation of police. Ms. Gandhi says that Bill was drafted in consultations with police. She also says that CARA, the Centre’s adoption portal makes sure that rules are stringent.
Rajya Sabha defers discussion on The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (Amendment) Bill, 2018, and takes up amendments to. The amendments were already passed by Lok Sabha.
What will be amended in Negotiable Instruments Act?
The Bill seeks amend the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. The Bill inserts a provision allowing a court trying an offence related to cheque bouncing, to direct the drawer (person who writes the cheque) to pay interim compensation to the complainant.
The Bill inserts a provision specifying that if a drawer convicted in a cheque bouncing case files an appeal, the appellate court may direct him to deposit a minimum of 20% of the fine or compensation awarded by the trial court during conviction.
In case the drawer is acquitted (during trial or by the appellate court), the court will direct the complainant to return the interim compensation (or deposit in case of an appeal case), along with an interest.
Vincent Pala, Shillong MP, narrates the story of his acquaintance was falsely accused of trafficking and found it difficult to prove his innocence. He says there is ample scope of law to be misused and wants the Bill to be sent to a Standing Committee.
N.K. Premachandran (RSP) says while he supports the Bill, he wants to know why the government is hesitant to send it to Standing Committee's scrutiny. This is a new Bill, looks wonderful but has scope for improvement, he says.
Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav (RJD) says he supports the Bill. He uses the opportunity to talk various issues like Muzzafarpur shelter home rapes, child labour, SC/ST and OBC protection and so on.
Heena Gavit (BJP) was alomost 90% trafficking is domestic, both inter- and intra-trafficking. This is a serious issue and the bill has come in the right time. She lauds the National Anti-Trafficking Bureau. The Bill is silent on prevention of re-trafficking. Trafficking is a syndicate and cant be tackled in case-to-case basis.
To take up the Bill or not?
Union Minister Tawarchand Gehlot moves The National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (Amendment) Bill, 2018.
The Bill amends the 1999 Act to fix the tenure of the Chairperson and members of the Board to three years. Further, the Bill states that the central government will initiate the process for appointment of the Chairperson or any member of the Board, at least six months prior to the expiry of his tenure.
Opposition members claim the Bill was necessitated because the government is unable to fill the vacancy in time. Anand Sharma claims many eminent persons applied for the post but the government didn't respond. Can't you find one person in this billion population, Ram Gopal Yadav asks.
Mr. Gehlot says two committees were set-up to look for a qualified candidate, but couldn't find one. That is why we want to change the law.
Satish Chandra Mishra (BSP) says the government should work on filling up vacancy instead on moving the Bill.
Let's defer the Bill today. The government and opposition can sit and sort this out, M. Venkaiah Naidu says.
'When newspapers are liable for their content, why not social media?'
Ravishankar Prasad says there are many uses of social media. Farmers and students are constructively using social media for education. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has helped numerous people who approached her through social media. I have also used social media to address greviences.
But people have issues even with cartoons. There is a growing trend of stopping counter-narrative, he says.
One aspect of social media is being misused. "We take cognisance of these mischief intended to provoke violence," he says. If newspapers are liable for content published in their paper, social media too must be held responsible for the content, he says.
On Mr. O'Brien's questions, Mr. Prasad answers: Post Card was removed by Facebook but there is no evidence of it propagating any ideology. India is a free nation. Anyone can attend any meeting. On NationWithNamo, he says he will revert.
When we can have political debate in the House, why deny it to people, he says.
On Mr. Azad questioning BJP leader's conduct, Mr. Prasad quotes Rajiv Gandhi's remark as the response.
Rajya Sabha now takes up Bills.
What is the trafficking bill about?
Lok Sabha continues to discuss the anti-trafficking Bill.
The Bill proposes setting up of a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau to investigate trafficking cases.
The work of the Bureau include: (i) coordinating and monitoring surveillance along known routes, (ii) facilitating surveillance, enforcement and preventive steps at source, transit and destination points, (iii) maintaining coordination between law enforcement agencies and non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders, and (iv) increasing international cooperation with authorities abroad for intelligence sharing, and mutual legal assistance.
The state government will appoint a State Nodal Officer, while Anti-Trafficking Units will be set up at every district.
The Bill provides for the establishment of Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committees (ATCs) at the national, state, and district levels. These Committees will be responsible for: (i) providing compensation to victims, (ii) repatriation of victims, and (iii) re-integration of victims in society, among others.
The Bill provides for setting up designated courts in each district, which will seek to complete trial within a year. — Courtesy: PRS India
M.M. Ragesh (CPI-M) says most profiles spreading fake news are trying to divide the people on communal lines. He accuses the BJP to initiate the April hartal. He also claims the Post Card news was targeting Kerala.
Navaneethakrishnan (AIADMK) quotes Thirukkural to say it's the duty of the person who receives the information to take what is necessary out of it.
Elangovan (DMK) suggests people holding Office must refrain from using social media.
Swapan Das Gupta says the IT industry grew not because of government but despite the government. The social media too grew by itself. Ninety per cent of the social media users use it for personal purpose like sharing family photos.
Mainstream media developed an arrogance that certain perspectives were kept out. Social media democraticed news. Because they are new voice, there is a degree of insolance. Enough provisions exist to tackle these issues. We can't have monitoring of social media and no infringement of privacy. Both can't happen together, he says.
Javed Ali Khan (SP) points out the Minister's reply came only in English, when submission are made in Hindi as well. You are unable to regulate the content in social media, hence you are unable to control it, he says.
Mr. Khan continues to speak even after his time is over. Parliamentary Affairs Minister objects to it. Anand Sharma too condemns the member's behavior.
Vijaisai Reddy speaks. There is a danger of mass hysteria in social media. Government has to draw a line between freedom of speech and what is derogatory or seditious. Real news is buried in the avalanche of hoax. There must be a continuous and constant monitoring of the content. Civil society must be taken into confidence.
D. Raja (CPI) says the Minister made a comprehensive statement but it lacks certain aspects. Social media is a great platform but it is being used to spread hatred, intolerance and social tensions. It could have a positive role in community building. Without naming the BJP, he points out the recent 'social media warriors meet' organised by the party. They are creating warriors to fight which war, he asks. I am also a victim of false news, he says.
Derek O'Brien (Trinamool) asks four questions in Rajya Sabha: If PostCard was brought down for fake news, why the BJP wants to bring it back? The person behind @ippatel, a Twitter handle spreading hate was called to BJP social media meet. Why? Why not ask WhatApp to disclose 1000 groups that spread rumours? Facebook's largest advertiser is NationwithNamo. Who is paying for it? Digital India is divisive India, he says.
Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) says the government cannot simply blame social media for the mob violence. Mobs won't abide by laws, it will only take law in their hands, he says. Physical violence is the product of verbal violence, he says pointing out at foul language used in social media.
I never knew a word called trolling existed four years back, says Mr. Jha. Even a minister is not spared, he says without mentioning Sushma Swaraj. The biggest supporter of cow protection was Gandhiji. We have forgotten him, he says quoting the Mahatma's words.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of Opposition, says it is a shame that such incidents are happening in a civilised country like India. Recalling a discussion on lynching during the last Monsoon session, he notes the case have only gone up instead of coming down.
Mr. Azad asks how many people have been booked for spreading fake news and rumours. He says BJP leaders have met the accused in jails, a Union Minister garlands lynching convicts, a BJP MP says he would pay the legal chargers of a lynching case accused. If the BJP reins in on its leaders, lynching will stop in four days, he says.
V. Muraleedharan (BJP) who moved the motion speaks. We have seen how Railways and External Affairs Ministries putting social media in good news. But rumours and misinformation are being spread.
He explains with an example. On April 16, Kerala witnessed a bandh. The violence that erupted that day would perhaps be the largest in the country. No organisation had called for a bandh that day. The government was caught unaware. The bandh call turned out to be a rumour, but it led to large-scale violence affecting innocent people.
Sometime social media is used to deliberately tarnish the image of political rivals. He accuses the Congress of doctoring a BJP advertisement published in The Hindu deliberately to target the BJP. Members object. He also accuses Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of spreading fake news. Photos of Rawalpindi was shown in this House as that of Bhopal. Political parties cutting across the lines must observe restrain so that people can follow them.
Rajya Sabha reconvenes. Six members move Calling Attention motion on recent incidents of mob lynching based on social media rumours.
Minister of Electronics and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad responds. Blaming WhatAapp forwards for such untoward incidents. He says the government took up the issue with WhatsApp and the firm has brought certain changes such as restricting forwards to five, highlighting forwards. The minister says though these are significant steps, they are inadequate. He wanted WhatsApp to notify law enforcement agencies whenever such rumours are spread.
He also says fake and hoax news spread on websites are regularly being taken down. He also says 457, 91, and 321 pages of Facebook, Youtube and Twitter have been taken down.
All social media platforms must adhere to the rule of land by having a physical presence in India. The government has asked social media agencies to appoint grievance officers as point of contact between the firm and the government. These firms should bring in more effective grievance mechanisam.
The government will strengthen framework to bring these companies under Indian laws. Awareness will be created among schoolchildren on spreading of fakenews, he adds.
The government is committed to freedom of expression and privacy. We don't regulate the content appearing. But these platforms should not be allowed to spread terrorism, money laundering or rumours, he adds.
Om Birla (BJP) says human trafficking is the third largest illegal trade after drugs and weapons. Women and children are most affected, he says thanking the WCD Ministry for bringing the Bil.
He says education and eradication of poverty will ultimately end trafficking. The bill is sympathetic towards the victims and stringent towards the perpetrators, he claims.
Shashi Tharoor says that the Bill is regressive and paternalistic as it ignores the agency of victims.
Mr. Tharoor says that government’s advertising budget is more than the rehabilitation fund set aside for women and children victims.
The Congress MP says that the difference between human trafficking and smuggling of migrants is well recognised in international law. He says that distinction is missing in the Bill.
He says that trafficking is not just a law and order issue, but has roots in socio-economic conditions.
He asks that the Bill referred to a Standing Committee. Congress members support him. They want the Bill to be referred to the Standing Committee.
The Bill also allows the bank accounts of the perpetrator to be frozen, says Maneka Gandhi. The Minister asks the House to pass the Bill today.
Saugata Bose of the Trinamool Congress points out that the list of business for the day says the Bill seeks ‘persecute’ offenders — a typographical error. It needs to be ‘prosecute,’ he says.
Shashi Tharoor of the Congress speaks next. Before he begins his speech, he remarks that the government may not know the difference between ‘persecution’ and ‘prosecution.’ He says the Bill raises many serious concerns. He says a comprehensive legislation is the need of the hour. Mr. Tharoor says that this Bill is a rehash of existing laws.
The Thiruvananthapuram MP says that the government must study how existing laws have been applied. He says that the Bill must differentiate between those who are trafficked into sex work, and adult, consenting women who have entered sex work.
Deputy Speaker M. Thambidurai is in the Chair.
Mr. Tharoor says the the Bill categorises trafficking for the purposes of begging as an aggravated offence, but trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is a regular offence.
He also says that rehabilitation homes need monthly inspection, as an earlier draft of the Bill had mentioned, and that this has been removed from the Bill.
Lok Sabha skips lunch to take up The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018.
Union Minister Maneka Gandhi moves the Bill that aims to prevent trafficking of persons, especially women and children and to provide care, protection and rehabilitation to the victims of trafficking, to prosecute offenders and to create a legal, economic and social environment for the victims and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
How can we stay silent when women and children are sold like goods, asks Ms. Gandhi and goes on to provide data on number of trafficking incidents reported. She says while the current laws define trafficking an offence, there are lots of gaps.
Ms. Gandhi says that the Bill allows police officers to undertake rescues as and when they receive information.
The Bill also put the victim in witness care to ensure effective prosecution, says the Minister.
Mallikarjun Kharge picks holes in appointment and promotion of professors. He says the roster system is a way to surpass reservation. He also says the SC/ST reservation was diluted by a Supreme Court judgement and cries foul at the judge who delivered the judgment being made the Chairperson of NGT.
Ananth Kumar, Parliamentary Affairs Minister, says government is considering the issue of promotion and appointment of professors. It was taken after a Supreme Court ruling. We have filed a Special Leaving Petition. The UGC order has been halted, he says.
Maheish Girri, a BJP member from Delhi raises the issue of death of three girls allegedly due to starvation. He claims the Delhi government is trying to cover up the issue. The deaths occurred due to improper distribution of ration supplies and the girls weren't given proper treatment at Mohalla clinics, he alleges.
Rajya Sabha adjourned. To meet at 2:00 pm
Zero Hour mentions in Lok Sabha include stoppage of express trains in suburban stations of Hyderabad, check the formalin contamination in fish, infrastructure development in Jharkhand, and appointment of Justice Goel to head NGT.
Will the Institute of Eminence tag given to Jio University be reconsidered, a AIADMK member Vijayakumar asks.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar says the institute has not been granted any status. It has been selected under greenfield category. It is only letter of intent. It will decided based on how the university comes up within three years.
Will the government give a white paper. Eleven such private institutes have submitted their proposals, but Jio was selected.
Why was IIT Chennai and JNU considered for the tag, asks D. Raja. Mr. Javadekar says the decision was taken by the Gopalaswami Committee. We decided to provide Rs. 1000 crore funding since none of the Indian universities made it to the list of top 100 world Universities. We are supporting IIT Madras too. They have a wonderful research facility, he adds.
Derek O'Brien insists on a clear answer, if Jio University has been granted the tag or not. The Minister replies "No, only a Letter of Intent," has been given.
Bhartruhari Mahtab, BJD member, says over lakh children have been reported missing in the last year. This has sparked fear of child-lifting. Recently a group of Odiya men were attacked in Chennai suspecting to be kidnappers. Luckily they were saved. The child snatching rumour is creating lots of lynching. Both trafficking and lynching are deeply interconnected, he says.
P R. Sundaram (AIADMK) says the truck strike have affected perishable goods sector such as eggs and vegetable. Prices of essential items have gone up. While Tamil Nadu government has taken some steps, we have spoken to Nitin Gadkari as well. Hope the government takes measures, he says. Many members associte.
Mohammed Salim seeks response from government on truckers strike.
Jyotiraditya Scindia says a central government project has been implemented in his constituency and he wasn't even invited and his name is missing in the plaque.
Union Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari says it was an oversight and expresses regret. A BJP member blames Congress for the practice of not including opposition MPs. Congress members object.
The Chair said the issue must be ended now since the minister has regretted.
Now, it's Zero Hour in Lok Sabha and Question Hour in Rajya Sabha.
In Rajya Sabha, a member asks why central government-run schools are being merged. Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar says the step was taken to improve infrastructure.
Vijaisai Reddy, Andhra Pradesh member, asks what will be the Centre-State ratio for Savagra Siksha Schemes in the case of his State, since the government repeatedly states all benefits of SCS will be extended to his State. Mr. Javadekar says the same policy will be continued.
Derek O'Brien raises a Point of Order. He says many special mentions are being rejected by executives. The Chair assures he will look into it.
Vijila Sathynanth raises the state of ESI hospital in Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu. Prasanna Acharya wants additional benches of Odisha High Court to be set up in two districts. P.L. Punia wants to set minimum wages for unskilled labourers. Revati Raman Singh wants a separate discussion on safeguarding the ecosystem of river Ganga.
Delhi has been receiving copious showers for the past few days and members walking with umbrellas have become a common scene.
Here a group of members from Maharashtra walk back to the Parliament after paying tributes to Chatrapati Shahuji Maharaj at Parliament complex. Shahuji Maharaj announced concept of reservation in 1902.
Rajeev Gowda raises the issue of truckers strike in Rajya Sabha. This is causing cascading effect on other industries.
Ramdas Athwale, Union Minister, says a century ago Shahuji Maharaj introduced reservation on this day. He pays tribute to the dynasty and says we have to take affirmative action forward.
Total sanitation efforts are all fine but how many such toilets are actually in use, asks a member. Rural Development Minister says about 93 per cent toilets are in use. The reason for the remaining ones not being used is due to water scarcity, we are working on fixing it, he says.
Adhir Ranjan Roy Chowdhury complaints the West Bengal government is not cooperating to implement DISHA committee guidelines.
DISHA or District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee is Rural Development Ministry initiative to oversee the implementation of central government's schemes in rural areas. Rural Development Minister says he will look into it but the issue could be solved if Mallikarjun Kharge and Saugata Roy intervene.
Some of the issues highlighted in the Zero Hour proceedings include plight of tea garden workers in Bengal, coastal fishing zone management, reopening a firm in Bihar that was closed citing environmental concerns, and adulteration in food products.
Ranveet Singh, Ludhiana MP asks why not set up a NIFT in Punjab since Ludhiana is a hub for textile industry. Ajay Tamta, MoS Textiles, says Punjab government is also taking steps on this regard. There is an NIIFT in Mohali. Board of Governance, an autonomous body should take a decision, he says.
Both Houses of Parliament begin.
Rajya Sabha pays tributes to soldiers on the 19th anniversary of Kargil Vijay Diwas.
Lok Sabha Speaker reads obituary reference. Kameshwar Paswan and Pandurang Punkar passed away recently.
Lok Sabha takes up Question Hour. Rajya Sabha takes up Zero Hour.