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Parliament Review: Here is what happened in the second week of the Winter Session

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Every week when the parliament is in session, Factly reviews the important developments including on bills, debates, questions & answers, and reports submitted, of the past week in both the Houses of the Parliament- Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. Here is what happened last week.

The winter session began with the passing of the  Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021, suspension of 12 MPs from the Rajya Sabha for their misconduct and unruly behaviour during the last Monsoon session, the introduction of important bills such as the Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (CVC), and the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The protests of the opposition against the suspension of the MPs continued into the second week and the Rajya Sabha was adjourned multiple times because of the protests.

Key Developments

The second week of the ongoing winter session of the Parliament (06 December to 11 December 2021) began with discussions on the Nagaland firing incident that took place on the evening of 04 December 2021. Home Minister Amit Shah made a statement on the issue in the Lok Sabha. He expressed regret over the ‘unfortunate incident’ wherein 14 civilians were killed by security forces in Nagaland. He stated that firing was ‘a case of mistaken identity’ and informed the Parliament that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) had been constituted to complete the investigation of the incident within a month.  

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Further, the members of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) walked out of both the Houses of the Parliament and stated that they will boycott the entire winter session of Parliament as they did not receive a proper response from the government on paddy procurement in Telangana. 

The defence minister Rajnath Singh expressed his profound grief on the death of the first-ever Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat, and 12 others in an Air Force chopper incident in Tamil Nadu. He also stated that a tri-Service enquiry regarding the incident headed by Air Marshal Manvendra Singh had been ordered by Indian Air Force. 

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About the Bills taken up

The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was tabled by Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya in the Lok Sabha. The Bill which seeks to grant institute of national importance status to six more institutions of pharmaceutical education and research, start new courses, and set up an advisory council for the institutes, was initially introduced in the Lok Sabha during the budget session this year and has been tabled yet again incorporating suggestions made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee. Members of different states appealed to the government to set up more pharmaceutical colleges in the country. Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha passed the Bill in the past week. 

The High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021 was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 30 November 2021. The bill seeks to provide the benefit of an additional quantum of pension to a retired Judge from the first day of the month in which he completes the age specified. High court & Supreme court retired judges are eligible for an additional quantum of pension based on the age of pensioner which increases every five years, starting from the age of 80 years. 

During the discussion on this bill, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor raised the issue of shortfall of High Court Judges, the pendency of cases in Courts, and the retirement age of judges of the top courts and asked the government to bring about a larger Bill to address these issues. YSRCP MP Geetha Vishwanath highlighted that the representation of women is meagre in the higher judiciary. She stated that the representation of women in the Supreme Court and High Court is just 9% and 11% respectively and that the total number of SCs and STs in the Supreme Court never crossed 10% and urged the government to take necessary steps to promote higher representation of women and minority groups in the judiciary through reservation policy. The Bill was later passed on 8 December 2021 in the lower house.

The Central Vigilance Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (CVC) that seeks to amend the 2003 CVC Act, the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2021 that was introduced in the Lok Sabha earlier were also passed this week despite opposition from opposition parties that the investigating agencies will lose their independence if the Bill is passed.  

The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020 and the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020 were passed in the Rajya Sabha. The Union Health Minister in response to debates stated that the Select Committee had given 64 recommendations which were considered by the government and many have been incorporated in the Surrogacy Bill.

Further, the Minister of State for Finance moved to introduce The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in Lok Sabha and opposition RSP MP N.K. Premachandran) opposed the motion for introduction of the Bill stating that his objection was purely technical and that it was an example of bad drafting of law. The Bill was introduced to replace an ordinance that was promulgated on 30 September 2021. It has not been passed yet. 

Other important issues discussed

The week also witnessed a lengthy discussion on climate change under rule 193. DMK MP Kanimozhi raised the issue of climate change and spoke of the excessive flooding in recent weeks and how Chennai was badly affected. She called on the government to act on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury suggested that the government should think globally but act locally. AITMC MP Dr. Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar said that the unplanned development led to climate change and that unplanned development is not keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Reports submitted

The Committee on the Empowerment of Women submitted a report on “Empowerment of Women through Education with Special Reference to ‘Beti Bachao – Beti Padhao’ Scheme” in the Lok Sabha. The committee made multiple recommendations. 

Notable Questions

As a response to a question on the number of cases of infiltration that has come to light in bordering areas during the last three years, the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that there were 128 cases of infiltration in India-Pakistan border, 1787 in India- Bangladesh border, 25 in India-Nepal border, and 133 in India-Myanmar border. ‘Nil’ cases of infiltration were reported from India- Bhutan border and India- China border. 

The Ministry of Agriculture in response to a question on compensation to farmers who died in protests stated that no farmer died because of police action during the farmers’ agitation. 

The Ministry of Electronics and IT stated that under the provision of section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, the government directed for blocking of 471, 500, 633, 1385, 2799, 3635 and 9849 number of Accounts/URLs in each of the years- 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. A total of 19,272 accounts/URLs were blocked in seven years.

Instances of fake COVID-19 Vaccination Camps and fake vaccine were reported from Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh according to another response. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare issued formal directions to the State Governments to investigate these incidents and take stringent legal and administrative actions.

Between 2017 to 2021, a total of 321 persons had lost their lives while cleaning sewers and septic tanks, according to a response by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment. 

Featured Image: Parliament Winter Session Review

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