Both houses of parliament witnessed disruptions due to repeated adjournments during the first week of the monsoon session of 2023 on the Manipur issue. The opposition also moved a no-confidence motion. Some important questions were answered, and a few standing committee reports were tabled.
The 12th session of the 17th Lok Sabha was scheduled to be held from 20 July 2023 to 11 August 2023. A total of 17 sittings are planned across these 23 days during this monsoon session. This session is expected to be crucial for both the opposition and the government ahead of the Lok Sabha polls next year.
Tentative business Schedule
On the Legislative business front, a total of eight bills are listed for consideration and passing during this session. Below is the list.
Further, a total of 21 bills are listed for introduction, listing, and passing during this session. Some important bills such as the ‘Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2023’, ‘The Registration of Births and Deaths (Amendment) Bill, 2023’, and ‘The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023’ are scheduled for this session. In addition, two bills, namely, ‘The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2019’ and ‘The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019’ are listed for withdrawal during this session.
A brief about the important bills that are listed to be taken up during this session is as below.
The monsoon session started on a heated note with the opposition members demanding a response from the Prime Minister on the ongoing crisis in Manipur. Both houses were repeatedly adjourned over the differences between the government and opposition parties on the nature of the Manipur crisis. No significant business has taken place till date in both houses amid the logjam.
While the opposition is demanding the suspension of business under Rule 267, the Government clarifies that it is ready for a short-duration discussion under Rule 176. With no positive response, the opposition had moved a no-confidence motion against the Government, potentially forcing the Prime Minister to speak on the Manipur situation. The date of discussion and voting on the no-confidence motion is not yet decided.
Amid the logjam, the Lok Sabha has passed ‘The Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023’. The bill aims to expand the permissible activities that can be taken up on forest land by adding and modifying certain types of land from the purview of the act. The bill was earlier criticized for not being referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology, Environment and Forests, but instead was referred to a selected joint committee.
Important Standing Committee Reports
Some important Standing Committee reports that were tabled during the first week of the monsoon session are as follows:
- 59th Report of the Standing Committee on Finance on “Cyber Security and Rising incidence of cyber/white collar crimes”.
- 58th Report on the subject ‘Research and Development in Farm Mechanization for Small and Marginal Farmers in the Country’
- 39th Report of the Standing Committee on Defence on the “Inter Services Organisations (Command, Control & Discipline) Bill, 2023”.
- 22nd Report of the Standing Committee on External Affairs (Seventeenth Lok Sabha) on the subject “India’s Neighbourhood First Policy”.
- 32nd Report of the Standing Committee on Rural Development and Panchayati Raj on the subject “Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)”.
Important matters raised under Rule 377
Gautham Sigamani Pon raised the issue of a sharp rise in prices of essential commodities, while Dharambir Singh raised the need to construct more dams and interlink rivers in the country. Similarly, Jaskaur Meena raised the need for provisions of stringent law to punish culprits involved in crimes against women, and Sudhakar Tukaram Shrangare regarding the need to regulate social media.
Other important matters include the recent incident of violence in Manipur raised by Supriya Sadanand Sule, P.P. Chaudhary regarding the need to regulate the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in educational institutions in the country, and Subhash Chandra Baheria regarding the need to check harassment of people by money lenders.
- On a question on the number of Indians renouncing Indian citizenship, the Government replied that as of June 2023, a total of 87,026 Indians relinquished their citizenship status. It reached its highest since the last decade in 2022 when more than 2 lakh Indian citizens chose foreign citizenships.
- On a question on GST invoice frauds, the Minister of Finance replied that a total of 26,254 cases have been registered and 1239 persons have been arrested between 2018-19 and 2022-23, and the amount detected stood at Rs.1,15,457 crores. However, the actual realization of the amount is only Rs.10,346 crores.
- On the question of toll collection, the government replied that more than 97% of the toll collection happens through FASTag. The year 2022-23 saw a collection of Rs. 48,028 crores, up from Rs. 22,664 crores in 2017-18. Among the categorization of vehicles, the user fee collection is highest from heavy commercial vehicles (4 to 6 axles) after the implementation of FASTag.
- On a question of leakage of CoWin App data, when asked about the total number of people affected and whether the government was able to identify the threat actors behind this leak, the government evaded the question. Instead, it replied that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had lodged a complaint and a FIR was registered by a law enforcement agency.
- On a question of the number of fact-checks conducted by the government, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting replied that a total of 1276 fact-checks were conducted since November 2019 (establishment of fact-check unit) till 17 July 2023.
- On a question on shell companies and the cases of black money, the Minister of Finance replied that as on 31 March 2023, assessments have been completed in 410 cases under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, resulting in a cumulative demand of Rs. 15,666 crores.
- On a question on extreme and heavy rain events, the Minister for Earth Sciences replied that apart from the monsoon season, October month saw a high number of heavy rainfall events, mainly due to the delayed withdrawal of southwest monsoon. Also, the minister replied that there is no plan to revise the categorization of rains as of now.