Parliament Winter session | Private Member’s bill on Uniform Civil Code introduced in Rajya Sabha

December 09, 2022 09:03 pm | Updated 09:03 pm IST

BJP member Kirodi Lal Meena introduces his private member bill on Uniform Civil Code in the Rajya Sabha on December 9, 2022.

BJP member Kirodi Lal Meena introduces his private member bill on Uniform Civil Code in the Rajya Sabha on December 9, 2022.

The government introduced four Bills in the Lok Sabha on Friday that sought to modify the Scheduled Tribes list in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The Lower House also witnessed a heated debate between Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and BJP’s Nishikant Dubey over demonetisation. Meanwhile in Rajya Sabha, BJP MP Kirodi Lal Meena introduced a Bill to provide for the constitution of the National Inspection and Investigation Committee for preparation of Uniform Civil Code and its implementation throughout India, but not without protests from the Opposition members.

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Lok Sabha

In the Lok Sabha, the government introduced four separate Bills that sought to revise the Scheduled Tribes (ST) lists in the States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

During the Question Hour, issues related to passport services, medical colleges and coastal tourism projects were raised.

The Lower House then took up Zero Hour after the Speaker disallowed notices for adjournment motion. Members of the Opposition urged the Speaker to allow all political parties to raise issues of critical importance, but they were denied permission.

During Zero Hour, a heated argument broke out as Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury attacked the Narendra Modi government over its 2016 demonetisation policy. The Congress MP claimed that the policy had failed to fulfil its objectives.

Countering Mr. Chowdhury, BJP MP Nishikant Dubey said that the Congress sides with the “those involved in corruption, Pakistan’s ISI and part of the ’tukde tukde’ gang”.

Meanwhile, the Centre also presented statements showing demand for excess grants for 2019-20 and supplementary demands for the first batch of grants for the current fiscal. The Lok Sabha then adjourned and reconvened at 2.05 p.m and resumed discussions on the need to promote sports in the country and the steps taken by the Centre.

Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur assured the Lok Sabha that traditional sports such as Mallakhamb, Thang Ta, Yogasana, Gatka and Kalpetta will soon go international, and the ministry will open 1,000 Khelo India centres across the country by August 15 next year. Of the total, 733 centres have already been sanctioned.Moreover 398 coaches have been appointed across 21 sports disciplines this year, he said.

The Government also sought Parliament’s nod for net additional spending of over ₹3.25 lakh crore in the current fiscal, which includes over ₹1.09 lakh crore towards fertiliser subsidy payout.

As per the first batch of supplementary demands for grants tabled in Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary, approval is being sought for gross additional expenditure of about ₹4.36 lakh crore.

Four separate bills were introduced in the Lower House to revise the lists of Scheduled Tribes in as many States. Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda introduced the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Amendment) Bills for Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh.

In reply to a question on India falling from last year’s ranking of 101 to 107 this year in the Global Hunger Index, the Centre said GHI does not reflect the country’s true picture. Saying that the index took into account a flawed measure of ‘hunger’, the Centre said, “It should not be taken at face value as it is neither appropriate nor representative of hunger prevalent in a country.”

The Centre stated in reply to another question on women MPs and MLAs that the issue of women’s reservation needs “careful consideration” based on the consensus among all political parties before a Bill is brought before Parliament.

Rajya Sabha

At 11 am, the Upper House commenced with the laying of papers and reports on the table. Two notices seeking suspension of business were brought to the attention of the Chair.

BJP MP Harnath Singh gave Zero Hour Notice in Rajya Sabha to discuss the implementation of the Uniform Civil code. KC Venugopal also submitted a notice under Section 267. The Chair refused to admit these notices.

Zero Hour commenced with a matter raised by BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi about the plight of Kashmiri Pandits. The Rajya Sabha erupted in chaos after MP Chaudhary Jayant Singh raised the issue of the Centre compensating families for the deaths of farmers at Lakhimpur Kheri, with members saying that his words did not deal with a State subject.

The Zero Hour continued, interspersed with moments of chaos. Dr. V Sivadasan, CPI(M) MP, rose to speak about the plight of public libraries in the country. Dr. Amar Patnaik, BJD MP from Odisha raised the issue of cyber threats and attacks. V Vijayasai Reddy, YSRCP MP from Andhra Pradesh, asked for appropriate reservations in public services and educational institutions, among others. JD(S) MP H.D Devegowda brought up the issue of drinking water and spoke about the plight of the people of Karnataka.

The Question Hour then followed with a discussion about several issues such as India’s trade with China, rise in milk prices, State-wise allocation of foodgrains under the Public Distribution System.

The Rajya Sabha was then adjourned and resumed after lunch with private members introducing bills for legislation. First on the list of business was the Uniform Civil Code in India Bill, 2020. MP Kirodi Lal Meena moved to introduce the bill to provide for the constitution of the National Inspection and Investigation Committee for preparation of Uniform Civil Code and its implementation throughout India.

However, several Opposition members, particularly MDMK leader Vaiko, CPI(M) leaders Elamaram Kareem, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya, John Brittas and A. A. Rahim, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, Jawhar Sircar of the Trinamool Congress, Manoj Kumar Jha of the RJD, opposed the bill.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal defended the introduction of the bill and said that it was the “legitimate right” of the member. He said that the subject should be debated in the House and to criticise it at the introduction was “uncalled for.” Despite the protests, the introduction of the bill was put for voting and was passed through a voice vote. There were 63 votes in favour and 23 against.

Following the UCC bill, a string of other bills were introduced by members including amendments to the Constitution, Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Indian Penal Code. The House then moved on to hear Special Mentions, during which, Dr. L. Hanumanthaiah, INC MP from Karnataka, used his turn to draw attention to the stopping of pre-matric scholarships for SC, ST, OBC, and minority students of classes 1-8. “The step taken by the central government is wholly unjustified and a travesty of the marginalised sections of our society in the field of education,” he said. The MP was warned by the Chairman to confine himself to the text. “There have been violations on a number of occasions while you were reading it out,” Mr. Dhankar said. The House was then adjourned for the day to reconvene at 11 a.m. on December 12 (Monday).

Compiled by Sumeda, Sruthi Darbhamulla, Sukanya Ray, Reuben Joe Joseph and Priyali Prakash.

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