Parliament disrupted again, LS passes 2 Bills without debate

Parliament disrupted again, LS passes 2 Bills without debate
Parliament disrupted again, LS passes 2 Bills without debate

Opposition members tore papers and threw them around in the Lok Sabha today as relentless protests by them and NDA partner TDP disrupted proceedings in both Houses of Parliament for the ninth straight day, but the government managed to get two bills passed without debate amid the din.

While Speaker Sumitra Mahajan first adjourned the Lok Sabha till noon and then for the day, the Rajya Sabha, which saw a total of three adjournments, could not take up the Finance Bill and the Appropriation Bills, due to the disruptions.

The proceedings of the two Houses were paralysed as opposition parties, along with ruling NDA partner TDP the TRS, stormed the Well and continued their noisy protests over a host of issues, including the banking scam, special status for Andhra and setting up of Cauvery management board.

In the Lok Sabha however, the government pushed two legislation, Payment of Gratuity (Amendment) Bill and Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, amid continued din and the House passed them with a voice vote without debate.

Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose party members were also in the Well, sought a discussion on the bills.

With continuous protests by different parties making the prospect of any discussion improbable, the Speaker went ahead with the proceedings for the passage of bills.

As the second bill was being passed without debate, some Opposition members were seen tearing some papers and throwing them around, as the Speaker adjourned the House for the day.

Earlier, Moving the Payment of Gratuity Bill for passage, Labour Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar said it is a very important legislation for employees, especially women.

The Bill notifies the period of maternity leave as part of continuous service and proposes to empower the central government to notify the gratuity ceiling from time to time without amending the law.

The Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill proposes to grant a party the right to seek damages from the other side in case of a breach of business contract and to reduce the discretion of courts in such matters.

Protests began in the House as soon as the Speaker took up the Question Hour in the morning, with members from various parties trooping into the Well holding placards.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar urged the protesting members to allow the House to function and said Parliament was the ‘maha panchayat’ of the country where issues are discussed but disruptions were not allowing important issues to be raised.

He said the government was open to discuss issues including bank scam, Cauvery water management board and special status for Andhra Pradesh, but the House has to function first and members have to vacate the Well.

As the protests continued, the House was adjourned till 12 noon minutes before it was adjourned for the day. While members of Congress, TMC, TDP, YSR Congress and TRS were in the Well raising slogans and holding placards, Left MPs were seen standing at their seats and raising slogans.

Since March 5 when the budget session resumed after recess, the two Houses have seen disruptions on a daily basis. Amid the din, the Finance Bill and the appropriation bills were yesterday passed by the House without discussion.

The Rajya Sabha proceedings were also disrupted due to uproarious scenes, with the House being adjourned for the day in the afternoon after witnessing two adjournments earlier, once till 2 PM and then again for an hour.

Minutes after the House reassembled at 3 PM, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien who was in the Chair urged the opposition to take up the Finance Bill and Appropriation Bills as members from TDP, AIADMK and Congress trooped into the Well raising slogans and carrying placards.

“Please listen to my request…There is Finance Bill… Appropriation Bills…If you don’t consider (them), Rajya Sabha will beocme irrelevant. I will dispose (these) in five minutes,” Kurien urged the members.

To this, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said “No Bill can just be finished in five minutes”.

However, as the slogan-shouting continued, Kurien adjourned the House for the day, saying “I will have to adjourn the House and the responsibility of not discussing or taking up Finance Bill is on the shouting members”.

Just before this, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moved a statutory resolution to approve a notification of March 1 which seeks to increase the basic custom duty on chickpeas, falling under a tariff item of the Customs Tariff Act from 40 to 60 per cent.

In the morning, the Rajya Sabha was disrupted by Congress protests following a remark by TDP member and former minister Y S Chowdary that the division of Andhra Pradesh in 2014 was carried out in a “hasty, unjust and unscientific” manner by the then UPA government.  Two ministers of the TDP — Chowdary and Ashok Gajapathi Raju — had quit their posts after the party pulled out of the NDA government over the issue.

Following noisy protests by Congress members, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, who had allowed Chowdary to make a statement under Rule 241 on the reasons for quitting the Union Cabinet, adjourned the House till 2 PM.