Winter Session of Parliament: LS clears 2 bills amid uproar, defers debate on triple talaq Bill to 27 Dec; RS adjourned without work
Lok Sabha clears autism, consumer protection bills amid uproar; Rajya Sabha adjourned without work as Rafale fighter jet deal and Cauvery river water issue disrupt proceedings on Day 8 of Winter Session of the Parliament
The eighth working day of the Parliament's Winter Session, on Thursday, saw several disruptions and adjournments in both Houses. While the Lok Sabha managed to pass two Bills — the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018, and the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (Amendment) Bill, 2018 — the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day minutes after it began.
Both Houses have been witnessing a ruckus over the Rafale fighter jet deal and Cauvery river issue, among other matters.
The first Bill that was passed in the Lok Sabha will need the Upper House's clearance even as the second will be sent to the President for his approval.
The contentious triple talaq Bill was, however, deferred till 27 December by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan following a request made by Congress party leader Mallikarjun Kharge that it be taken up for discussion next week. "I give you a commitment that Congress party will participate in the discussion on the Bill," he said. Law minister Ravishankar Prasad said he respects Kharge and expects the Congress leader to assure the proceeding will be held peacefully. He also requested the members to take up the Bill in a peaceful and sanguine manner.
The proceedings in the Lok Sabha were adjourned thrice as members from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka sparred over the issue of building a dam on the Cauvery River and Congress leaders demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe on the Rafale fighter jet deal.
As the House met for the day, the proceedings barely lasted for 10 minutes and Mahajan adjourned the House till noon around 11.10 AM. Not a minute went by since Mahajan took her seat before MPs began their protests in the Lok Sabha. BJP MPs were chanting "Rahul Gandhi maafi maango" and "Rahul Gandhi chor hai".
During Zero Hour, Mahajan allowed AIADMK's P Venugopal to raise the issue of Karnataka's proposed dam at Mekadatu over the Cauvery river. Venugopal said the dam will affect lakhs of farmers in Tamil Nadu, as it will impact the availability of water for irrigation purposes. In response, BJP MP from Karnataka Prahlad Joshi said the dam was essential for the state as it was a drinking water project.
RJD MP JP Yadav raised the issue of coins of various denominations not being accepted by banks in Bihar.
The House was adjourned for the second time till 2 pm as members from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka entered the well holding placards over the Cauvery River issue. Congress members were already there demanding a JPC probe into the Rafale deal while TDP MPs were demanding setting up of a steel plant in Andhra Pradesh and special category status for the state.
Amid the uproar, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley moved the supplementary demand for grants — the second batch for 2018-19 — and introduced a bill to further amend the Companies Act in the 20 minutes the House functioned during the Zero Hour.
The House convened at 2 pm and Union minister Ram Vilas Paswan introduced the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill 2018. Paswan said that the Bill will also deal with misleading adverts and consumer disputes. He said that that Bill has a provision for imposing a fine on businesses resorting to unfair trade and misleading advertisements.
Raising objection the Bill, All India Trinamool Congress MP Pratima Mondol said that by insulating celebrity endorsers from a jail term, the Centre has let them escape the responsibility.
Even as the House debated the Bill, Congress and BJP MPs raised slogans against each other over the Rafale deal. The Congress MPs demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee on the fighter jets deal while a few BJP MPs shouted back at the use of 'unparliamentary' language.
The Bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha in January 2018. It enforces consumer rights and provides a mechanism for redressal of complaints regarding defects in goods and deficiency in services. The Bill states that “any manufacturer or service provider who causes a false or misleading advertisement to be made which is prejudicial to the interest of the consumers shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and with fine which may extend up to 10 lakh rupees.”
TDP MPs demanded special category status for Andhra Pradesh and setting up a steel plant in the state.
As the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2018, was taken up for consideration, Leader of the Opposition in the House Mallikarjun Kharge suggested it be taken up for discussion next week.
He said the Opposition would also participate in the debate on the bill.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narendra Singh Tomar sought an assurance from the Opposition that it would allow discussion on the bill without disruption on that day.
Following Kharge's suggestion, Law Minister Mani Shankar Prasad said, "As Kharjeji has made an open promise, we have no problems in having a discussion on December 27. I urge that this debate be held in a sanguine and peaceful manner."
Following this, the Speaker adjourned the Lok Sabha for the day.
The Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day without transacting any business on Thursday after ruckus in the House over the Rafale fighter jet deal and Cauvery river issue.
Soon after the House met for the day, slogan-shouting members of Tamil parties — AIADMK and DMK — trooped into the well of the House over the Cauvery issue. Opposition Congress members also shouted slogans and held placards seeking a probe by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the purchase of Rafale jets from France.
Treasury benches countered Congress members with slogans demanding an apology from Congress president Rahul Gandhi following the Supreme Court clean chit to the Rafale deal. Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said all issues can be discussed and members should allow the House to function.
"Many issues are pending. Important bills are there. We have to discuss (devastation caused by) cyclones (in some states)," he said.
He said a notice has been given on the Rafale deal. "We can discuss Rafale deal too. The government has given in writing that it has no objection to a discussion on Rafale."
Besides discussions on distress in the agriculture sector and price rise are also slated, he said. "The entire country is agitated about the way the House is functioning. The whole country is watching," he said before adjourning the proceedings for the day.
Earlier, Naidu said he had gone into the records after Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel had on Wednesday demanded that Congress deputy leader Anand Sharma withdraw his remarks about him.
Naidu said Sharma had on 18 December, while raising a point of order, stated that Goel had sought an apology from Rahul Gandhi, who is a member of the Lok Sabha, over the Rafale issue. However, Goel had on 19 December stated that he made no reference to Rahul Gandhi and Anand Sharma should withdraw his remarks, Naidu said, adding he went through the records carefully and found that Goel had not referred to Gandhi.
"Therefore the averment made by Goel is correct," he said.
Sharma said he respects the ruling of the Chair but there was a din and commotion in the House and ruling party members were standing and shouting slogans seeking an apology from Rahu;. Naidu, however, said the record is straight. "Statement made by Goel seems to be correct," Naidu said.
With inputs from PTI
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