LS passes Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill for improved road safety provisions; RS nod to Finance, Appropriation bills

The Lok Sabha passed the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on Tuesday and began discussion on the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019. The Rajya Sabha gave its nod to the Finance (No 2) Bill and Appropriation (No 2) Bill and saw the tabling of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to weed out corruption, improve road safety and usher in use of technology to regulate traffic, as the government assured the House that rights of the states will not be taken away.

The bill proposes a National Transportation Policy for ushering guidelines on the transportation of goods and passengers, which Gadkari said will be formulated only after consultation with states. His statement came after various Opposition leaders, who supported provisions of the Bill pertaining to safety and violations, said the Centre is trying to take away state’s powers.

 LS passes Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill for improved road safety provisions; RS nod to Finance, Appropriation bills

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman speaks in the Rajya Sabha. PTI

Gadkari also said that soon, two-wheeler taxis would be a reality, which would be a welcome facility for people living in villages and tehsils. The minister said several states, including Delhi, and Himachal Pradesh, are buying electric vehicles for public transportation. He added that work is in full swing to attract domestic and international cruises to Mumbai. "We are also making waterways. Soon you will be able to travel from Allahabad to Kolkata," he said, also stating plans for ropeways, cable-cars and sky-buses.

He also addressed the House on the advantages of the use of technology in parking lots, giving the example of the seven-level mechanised parking lot at the Transport Bhavan in Delhi. He said that as many as 14,000 black spots have been identified in the country, and Rs 14,000 crore, raised from ADB and World Bank, would be invested to rectify them with a view to control road accidents. The Bill also mandates that new vehicles be registered at the dealers level and it will eventually remove buyers interface with the Registration authorities.

DMK's Kanimozhi said the central government is already in control of seaways, airways and trains, and is now trying to control roadways as well. She also objected to the bill's provision that does away with the need for any education for a driver. TMC’s Sougata Roy, RSP’s NK Premachandran and NCP’s Supriya Sule were among those who raised objections to certain provisions of the Bill.

Minister of State Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy moved the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019, saying that the Centre maintains a zero tolerance stance towards terrorism. He said that between 2004 and 2014, a little over 40 incidents of inter-land terrorism took place, in which 883 people were killed. However, from 2014-19, four incidents of inter-land terrorism took place, in which 91 people were killed.

The bill seeks to allow an individual suspected to have terror links to be designated a 'terrorist'. The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and empowers the officers of the NIA, of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.

The Opposition in Lok Sabha walked out demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi's statement on US president Donald Trump's remarks on Kashmir mediation as the government asserted that outstanding issues between India and Pakistan will continue to be addressed bilaterally.

When External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar started addressing the House, the Opposition erupted into protests and staged a walkout. During Question Hour, Congress members were heard shouting 'we want an answer' and the party's leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the prime minister should give an answer.

The Appropriation (No 2) Bill, 2019 and the Finance (No 2) Bill, 2019 were cleared by the Rajya Sabha, completing the parliamentary approval process for the 2019-20 Budget. The bills were tabled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who justified the hike in taxes on petrol and diesel, emphasising that inflation was at rock bottom. She also said that raising tax on super-rich and levy of a tax on high value cash withdrawals were aimed at creating the new India and curbing tax evasion as well as black money.

Sitharaman said that the report on Direct Tax Code would be submitted on 31 July and that the NDA government is keen to reduce tax compliance burden on taxpayers. She added that the government has brought in amendments in the seven Acts under direct tax, including reduction in corporate tax to 25 percent, relief to startups and affordable housing.

Following the passage of the bills tabled by Sitharaman, Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani tabled the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which provides death penalty for aggravated sexual assault on children, besides providing stringent punishments for other crimes against minors. Amendments also provide for fines and imprisonment to curb child pornography.

Rajya Sabha too witnessed disruptions, led by Congress, AAP and CPM memebrs, over the absence of Modi’s response to Trump's claim on Kashmir mediation. Congress leader Anand Sharma said, "I and other members of the opposition have given notices. We have rights as members of the House. There are certain traditions and dignity of the House. Whenever the prime minister goes out and whenever there is an international issue, the prime minister must reply. Let the prime minister come."

After Jaishankar’s statement regarding Trump’s claim on the Kashmir issue, members began shouting slogans and the Upper House was adjourned till noon. As soon as the house resumed, Rajya Sabha members trooped into the well, continuing their protests, leading to an adjournment till 2 pm. The din, however, continued, with MPs demanding Modi’s statement in the House on the issue, which led to another adjournment till 3 pm.

Updated Date: Jul 23, 2019 21:26:51 IST