Refer Bill to committee: Sushma

NEW DELHI, DEC. 6. The Bharatiya Janata Party will certainly insist that the legislation to replace the repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act be sent to the standing committee attached to the Ministry of Home Affairs, party's deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha and chairman of the standing committee on Home Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, said today.

She said that after the Lok Sabha passes the Bill and sends it to the Rajya Sabha for consideration, the BJP would insist and appeal to the chairman of the Upper House to send the legislation to a standing committee.

Ms. Swaraj saidthe Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, was not only a member of the Rajya Sabha, but for years when he was in the Opposition he had said that as a matter of principle any new legislation must first be whetted by the relevant standing committee. She hoped he would now stand by that principle.

She said it would be up to the chairman of the House, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, to accept or reject the BJP demand.

"He is competent to accept our demand ... he does not have to go by the majority opinion in the House.''

Ms. Swaraj said the standing committee on Home Affairs has several important MPs on it, including Rahul Gandhi, Sachin Pilot and R.K. Dhawan from the Congress and the Leader of the Opposition, L.K. Advani, from the BJP.

She told the press that "even if an amendment Bill is moved as a matter of principle it should first be sent to the standing committee concerned, and, in this case, the Unlawful Activities [Prevention] Amendment Bill, which seeks to replace POTA, is an extremely important piece of legislation, which has far-reaching implications ... if the Government does not want a vacuum as a result of repeal of POTA then it can re-promulgate the ordinance.''

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