Rajya Sabha passes the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019
As voting on the RTI (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is underway, chaos erupts in the House. Opposition members troop into the well. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad says ministers are intimidating MPs. "You are trying to turn the Parliament into a government House or department," he said before announcing that the Congress is walking out.
This is a pill that has decided to kill the RTI, says Congress’ Jairam Ramesh. What is the amendment about, why was the original sections kept in the Act and hy bring this amendment now are the three questions he posed.
“The original Bill equated the information commissioners with the Secretaries. But the Standing Committee suggested the CIC and IC to that of CEC and EC. It may be noted that President Ram Nath Kovind, then the MP, was part of the Standing Committee,” he said.
Ramesh said that the timing of the amendment is neither innocuous nor innocent. Noting five orders of CIC - PM's educational qualification, government's false claim on bogus ration cards, that RBI disapproved demonetination, the then RBI Raghuram Rajan had given the list of top NPA defaulters, quantum and value of black money brought back from abroad, he said the real reason behind the Bill is to make the Information Commission a toothless body.
The manner of making appointments lead to disappointments, Ramesh said.
303 MPs voted in favour and 82 MPs voted against it.
DMK’s RS Bharathi accuses govt of diluting RTI to “please certain people”
RJD’s Manoj Jha said that the Bill is a direct attack on the power of RTI as well as the federal structureand warned the ruling party that this may affect them too.
MK’s RS Bharathi accused the government of diluting the powers just to please certain people. He also accused the government of usurping the powers of the States.
Nominated MP Swapan Das Gupta said the RTI is also a victim of unintended consequences. “The so-called activists have used the RTI for surrogate politics. The decision-making of bureaucracy has been slowed down due to the fear of RTI. Opposition protests, seeks his words to be expunged,” he said.
Rajya Sabha MPs discuss the RTI Bill
The Ministry doesn't keep track on the number of bills passed or the status of whistleblower's protection bill, Samajwadi Party’s Javed Ali Khan said in the Rajya Sabha. “When the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said the RTI review could be reviewed, BJP leader LK Advani vehemently opposed it saying BJP will not allow any attempt to dilute the law. At least follow your leader's words," he said.
JD(U)’s Ramchandra Prasad Singh said the Chief Information Commissioner is selected by a committee that comprises the Leader of Opposition. So the question of misuse of power doesn't arise, he said supporting the Bill.
TRS’ K Keshav Rao said the Minister had assured them that the law will not be diluted and voiced support for the Bill.
Indian penal code is equal for everyone, Ravi Shankar Prasad said. “When a Muslim man goes to jail for dowry, nobody questions how he pays maintenance. But, the minute Triple Talaq is taken up, this issue is brought up,” he said.
He said that many evils among Hindus, such as sati and dowry, were brought under the penal law.
Shankar also said that the only relevant stakeholders when it comes to the Bill are the Muslim women, not the Muslim Boards in the country.
Parliament Updates: Lok Sabha is discussing instant triple talaq bill. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minority Affairs Minister, says that the Opposition is against the triple talaq Bill because they are afraid of losing a certain set of votes. The Bill is in lines with the constitutional commitment. The Bill will protect Muslim women, he adds.
After Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and MP Meenakshi Lekhi, DMK's Kanimozhi opposes the Bill. Kanimozhi says women's rights includes men's rights also. She questioned the bail clauses. "What about Hindu women and Christian women? No one sends a Hindu man to jail for abandoning his wife," she says. "Domestic violence laws are stronger than this Bill," she says. "When the Supreme Court approved women entering Sabarimala, why was BJP opposing it? Why is marital rape not considered a crime," she asks.
"Why is this government in such rush to pass these bills? Why bills that arouse the communal passion are being pushed?" she asks. "You are passing Bills on women without having adequate women in the House," she says and asks the government to pass the women's reservation Bill first. "What laws are you bringing to stop 'honour' killing, mob lynching? What freedom we have when we can't eat what we like, pray whom we like or refrain from praying?"
DMK's Kanimozhi opposes the triple talaq Bill. "Why is this government in such rush to pass these bills? Why bills that arouse the communal passion are being pushed?" she asks.
"You are passing Bills on women without having adequate women in the House," she says and asks the government to pass the women's reservation Bill first. "What laws are you bringing to stop 'honour' killing, mob lynching? What freedom we have when we can't eat what we like, pray whom we like or refrain from praying?"
BJP's Meenakshi Lekhi rises to address the Lok Sabha over triple talaq bill and starts by giving example of former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Lekhi goes on to talk about the Shah Bano case and how Rajiv Gandhi government overturned the alimony clause. She says opposition is unable to digest that Narendra Modi is being a brother to innocent Muslim women. She mentions Akhilesh Yadav's name and Samajwadi Party members object to it.
Lekhi quoted Nehru and said that he wanted to see a just India and turn religious India to a secular India. "Isn't that what our Prime Minister Narendra Modi trying to do? This Bill will ensure that," she says.
Ravi Shankar Prasad rises to present The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 for consideration and passing. NK Premachandran says that Supreme Court has never given a directive to the government to make a law on this. Only the AIMPLB wants the government to make legislation on this. He asks why the government is not ready to make a legislation on mob lynching, when it has been directed by the Supreme Court. He says this is a politically motivated Bill to target a particular community.
He says consecutive promulgation of Ordinances is a fraud on the Constitution.
Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury opposes the introduction of The Inter-State River Water Disputes Bill, 2019. TR. Baalu says the government is bulldozing Bills through the Parliament.
Question Hour underway in Lok Sabha. Trinamool Congress' Sougata Roy asks if Kolkata airport can be privatised as well. The minister says bids were invited for six airports and one bidder won it in all the six airports. Opposition insists the minister should name the bidder. "Yes, it is Adani," he said. "We have decided to hand over three airports to them. We invited bids. There were nine bidders," he said. Government favoured the Adanis, alleges Opposition. "I am happy for a discussion," the minister says. Members create ruckus in the House. Speaker brings the House in order.
Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha assembled at 11 am on Thursday. The government has listed the contentious triple talaq bill for consideration and passage in Lok Sabha on Thursday. The ruling BJP has issued a whip to its MPs, asking them to ensure their presence in the House.
The bill, which criminalises instant divorce by Muslim men and seeks jail term for the guilty, was the first draft legislation tabled by the Narendra Modi government in this first session after it took oath of office for a second term in May.
Several opposition parties have bitterly opposed it but the government has asserted that the bill is a step towards gender equality and justice. Parties like the Congress, the Trinamool Congress and the DMK have demanded that it be sent to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny.
The BJP-led NDA enjoys a strong majority in the Lower House, making the passage of the bill a foregone conclusion. However, the government is set to face an uphill task in Rajya Sabha where Opposition parties have numerical advantage over the treasury benches.
Some of the BJP's allies, including the JD(U), have also expressed their reservation about the bill.
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Updated Date: Jul 25, 2019 20:36:07 IST
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