The third day of the Winter Session of Parliament saw a stormy session along with some lively debate. Congress protests over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "conspiracy with Pakistan" remark against his predecessor Manmohan Singh led to a virtual washout of the Rajya Sabha proceedings, even as Chairman Venkaiah Naidu said there was no question of an apology.
Congress members also alleged that the treasury benches were directing the Chair and not allowing the Congress leaders to speak.
The lower House, which witnessed two adjournments in the pre-lunch sitting over the issue amid protests by the Congress MPs, was disrupted again as it met at 2 pm as they gathered near the Speaker's podium raising slogans.
While most of the Congress members were near the Speaker's podium, the party's leader in the House Mallikarjun Kharge requested permission to raise a point of order.
Deputy Speaker M Thambidurai, who was in the Chair at the time, said permission could only be granted if the issue was related to the bill which was being taken up: The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill.
While the discussion on the bill went on, the Congress members continued to protest, and Thambidurai finally agreed to give Kharge a chance to raise his point of order.
The Congress leader urged the Chair to expunge the remarks made during Zero Hour by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Poonam Mahajan, who alleged that the Congress leaders were conspiring to remove Modi.
"One member used defamatory words against the former prime minister who is not a member of this House," Kharge said, adding that he had also requested Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to expunge the remark. The Congress MPs alleged that the government was "controlling the Chair" and staged a walkout.
The Lok Sabha also passed two Bills to repeal 245 obsolete and archaic laws, including the 158-year-old Calcutta Pilots Act of 1859 and the 1911 Prevention of Seditious Meeting Act.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the old and many irrelevant pre-Independence laws were the "unfortunate part of the colonial legacy" and repealing them was a progressive move that reflects the "pro-reform" approach of the government.
The Centre favoured including petroleum products in the ambit of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) but it would want a consensus with the states before taking such a step, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday. During the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram sought to know the Union government's position on bringing petrol and diesel under the GST.
Rajya Sabha passed a bill to give more autonomy to IIMs. The Indian Institutes of Management Bill, 2017 — which was passed in the Lok Sabha in July this year — grants statutory powers to the IIMs in their running including the appointment of directors and faculty members.
The Upper House saw two adjournments during the pre-lunch period, till the Chair finally called it a day a little after 2 pm. The prime minister's remarks also took its toll on proceeding in the Lok Sabha, where Congress members staged a walkout and boycotted the proceedings in the afternoon.
The Rajya Sabha also passed the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2017 by a voice vote. It was adopted by the Lok Sabha in July this year during the Monsoon Session.
In the meantime, disgruntled Janata Dal-United leader MP Veerendra Kumar on Wednesday resigned from the Rajya Sabha just days after rebel JD(U) leaders Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar were disqualified from the Upper House.
The 80-year-old, also a Kerala media baron, submitted his resignation to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday morning, Arun Kumar Shrivastava, also a rebel JD-U leader, told IANS.
A bill to amend the regulations governing compensation payable for acquisition of immovable property by the Centre for defence and security purposes, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
In Lok Sabha, the Immovable Property (Amendment) Bill, which was moved by Urban Development Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, was adopted by a voice vote. Replying to the debate on the Bill, Puri said the law has been amended eleven times earlier. "This is the 12th amendment and the amendment has been brought for limited and specific purpose," the minister said.
The Bill seeks to amend a provision to allow the Centre to re-issue the notice of acquisition in order to ensure that the property's owner gets an opportunity to be heard.
"State has the obligation that relates to compensation. The states want to pay compensation which is fair and just compensation," the minister said.
Against this backdrop, the bill seeks to amend a section of the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act to "enable the central government to re-issue the notice of acquisition to the owner or such other person interested in the property, for the purpose of giving an opportunity of being heard".
Puri also clarified that the government had no intention to open up those cases where the compensation has already been provided.
Participating in the debate, CPM leader Mohammad Salim said the government was trying to bring in "piecemeal" legislation to acquire land at a time when the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was pending with the joint parliamentary committee. BJP MP Gopal Shetty was critical of the defence officials for acquiring civilian land unnecessarily.
"Sometimes the enemy does not trouble (the civilians) but these (defence) officials do. The Bill will help get justice to those whose land has been taken," he said.
AP Jithender Reddy (TRS) said the prime minister has often talked about cooperative federalism and if the land is taken by the Centre for national security, it should also take steps to take the state governments into confidence.
Asserting that the payment should be more generous for the marginalised people, Varaprasad Rao (YSRC) said the government "has a lot of land which was lying waste. Barren land should be put to use, rather than taking away the land of the poor people".
As the debate on forest amendment bill began, SDF leader Prem Das Rai raised the 'complications' in regularising bamboo. "People of North Sikkim were completely cut-off because of Mantam lake which was created because of the landslide. They then made a bamboo bridge and are now able to cross the lake on foot," Prem Das Rai said in Lok Sabha.
Rai demanded that the bamboo is unleashed from "all kinds of regulations". In 2014, He added that he had brought a similar bill on bamboo with a private members' bill in 2014.
The Lok Sabha adjourned its sessions after passing the two important bills of Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 .
The Winter Session of the Parliament will have a total of 15 sittings, between 15 December, 2017, and 5 January, 2018, and will see the introduction of 14 fresh bills on social, labour, justice, health and consumer affairs. For example, the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, aims to prevent discrimination against the third gender and prescribes penalties for certain offences.
Updated Date: Dec 20, 2017 21:04 PM