AgustaWestland, Uttarakhand crisis find echo in Parliament's budget session

The budget session of the Rajya Sabha came to an end on Friday after passing 12 bills and wasting 19 hours due to disruptions over various issues like imposition of President's Rule in Uttarakhand and AgustaWestland helicopter deal controversy.

The session, which began on 25 April, was adjourned sine die. With the completion of the session, 53 members retired from the House.

Chairman Hamid Ansari announced that 12 bills were passed or returned in the Rajya Sabha and the major legislations approved included the Finance Bill and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Bill. However, the GST Bill, which is facing stiff resistance from the opposition Congress, remained pending and was not even listed during the session.

Referring to the GST bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in the Rajya Sabha that while important reform measures were passed, "it would have been better if two critical decisions had also been approved."

Lok Sabha has already approved the constitutional amendment but it remains pending in Rajya Sabha, where the ruling NDA does not have a majority.

The House of Elders met for 69 hours but more than 19 hours were lost due to disruptions over issues like the political crisis in Uttarakhand, allegations of bribery and corruption in AgustaWestland chopper seal, alleged lynching of Muslims in Jharkhand, anomalies and irregularities pointed out in the CAG Report in KG Basin Gas Project of Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation among others.

Issues relating to train carrying empty tankers sent by the government to drought-hit Bundelkhand and reported remarks by the Prime Minister against leaders of UPA in the AgustaWestland deal at an election rally in Tamil Nadu also led to disruptions.

While the session of the Lok Sabha was brought to an end two days back, the Rajya Sabha stuck to its schedule.

The session also saw the resignation of industrialist Vijay Mallya, who is embroiled in a major controversy related to his debt of over 9,000 crore.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The legislations approved also included the Appropriation Acts (Repeal) Bill, the Repealing and Amending (Third) Bill, the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, the Appropriation (Railways) No.2 Bill, the Anti Hijacking Bill, the Appropriation (No. 2) Bill, the Finance Bill, the Rajendra Central Agricultural University Bill and the Indian Trusts (Amendment) Bill.

The Enforcement of Security Interest and recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was referred to the Joint Committee of both the Houses.

During the session, 6 Private Member's Bills were introduced in the House. One Private Member's Bill namely 'The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2015' was taken up for discussion, which remained inconclusive.

The issues regarding need to strengthen the provisions of Indian Penal Code and other laws to protect girls and women from sexual exploitation and to make other welfare measures for their empowerment, and to abolish capital punishment in the country, were discussed through Private Members' Resolutions.

"The House welcomed 13 newly-elected/re-elected members from the States of Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Nagaland, Punjab and Tripura and 6 newly-nominated members and bid farewell to 53 members whose term of office would expire in the months of June and July," Ansari said.

Giving details, he said that during the Session, 81 Zero Hour submissions were made, 225 Starred Questions and 2391 Unstarred Questions were answered. Of these, 61 were orally answered and another 227 Supplementaries were also raised.

The Lok Sabha session, on the other hand, was brought to a sudden end on Wednesday, two days before the scheduled culmination of the session during which the budgetary exercise was the highlight.

Ten bills, including the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 and the Anti-Hijacking Bill, were passed during the three-week session which saw no adjournment due to disruptions.

The Eighth Session of the 16th Lok Sabha, which commenced on 25 April, had 13 sittings spread over 92 hours and 21 minutes.

The session also saw discussion on the alleged irregularities in AgustaWestland Helicopter deal, during which the government and Congress traded charges.

Another highlight was the passage of the Budget in respect of Uttarakhand for 2016-17. The hill state was brought under President's rule on 27 March, which was revoked on 11 May.

The drought situation in several parts of the country was also discussed.

Some of the important Bills passed are the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Bill, 2016; the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015; the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, as Reported by Joint Committee; and the Anti-Hijacking Bill, 2016.

The House also held one short duration discussion under rule 193 regarding drought and drinking water crisis in many states and need to consider inter-linking of rivers and water resource management.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: May 13, 2016 19:10 PM

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