The Rajya Sabha lost half of its working time due to disruptions in the Winter Session during which the contentious triple talaq bill also could not be passed with the government and the opposition trading barbs over it. The truncated session started on a stormy note with the opposition creating an uproar over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks against his predecessor Manmohan Singh.
The remarks, made during the Gujarat elections campaign, led to acrimonious exchanges between the two sides in the Upper House with the Congress-led opposition demanding an apology from the prime minister on the issue.
The matter was, however, resolved with the intervention of Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, who helped both sides sit together and amicably resolve the dispute.
The matter ended with the sides making statements in the House, stressing that they respected the high posts of the prime minister as well as the former prime minister, and would not say anything to denigrate them.
The opposition also raised the issue of remarks made by Union minister Anantkumar Hegde against the Constitution and the attacks on Dalits in Bhima-Koregaon in Pune district on January 1, which led to uproarious scenes and disruptions.
However, when the triple talaq bill was introduced for consideration in the Rajya Sabha, the opposition brought two amendments in it for sending it to the Select Committee.
The House saw sharp exchanges over the issue, with the treasury benches blaming the opposition for stalling the key legislation seeking to empower women’s rights and make triple talaq a cognisable offence with jail up to three years.
However, the opposition led by the Congress was adamant to send the bill to the Select Committee for further scrutiny.
The bill would now be taken up in the Budget Session which starts later this month. The Rajya Sabha lost 34 hours working time to such disruptions.
Chairman Naidu urged members to seriously introspect and not treat Parliament as an extension of politics, which is marked by deep divisions and acrimony.
The session which started on December 15 had 13 sittings in all. The House, however, tried to make up this loss by sitting late for about three hours to complete legislative and other important businesses.
It worked for 41 hours that saw the passage of nine Government Bills.
The bills that were passed in the House included the Companies (Amendment) Bill, the Indian Institutes of Management Bill, the Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, the Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy Bill and the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill.
Besides, the Repealing and Amending Bill, the Repealing and Amending (Second) Bill, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill were also passed.
There were 51 special mentions on matters of public importance which were made during the session. Fifty-one matters were also raised with the permission of the Chair.
The House also discussed during short duration discussions the issues of excessively high levels of air pollution in Delhi, the state of the economy, investment climate and job creation in the country and the need to address the challenge of rising unemployment.
During the session, 19 Private Members’ Bills were introduced and one Private Members’ Bill namely the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2016 (insertion of new article 16A) was discussed and motion for consideration of the Bill was negatived.
However, no Private Members’ Resolution could be discussed during the Session. During the Session, 110 reports/statements of various parliamentary committees were also tabled.
The issue of disqualification of two former JD-U members Sharad Yadav and Ali Anwar Ansari from the membership of the Rajya Sabha with effect from December 4, 2017, under the tenth schedule of the Constitution, also came up.
During the session, the House made references to the passing away of Shri Arjan Singh, Marshal of the Indian Air Force and 12 former members of the Rajya Sabha.
Twelve new ministers, inducted into the Union Council of Ministers, were introduced by the prime minister and the new secretary general, Rajya Sabha, was also introduced by the chairman to the House.
The House bid farewell to three members, Karan Singh, Janardan Dwivedi and Parvez Hashmi, representing the NCT of Delhi, whose term of office would expire on the January 27.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made a statement regarding the meeting of the family members of Kulbhushan Jadhav with him in Pakistan and the situation arising there. Members of various parties and groups also expressed their concern.
The Minister of Commerce and Industry also laid a statement regarding ‘India’s stand in the WTO’.
Fifty statements on the status of implementation of the recommendations contained in the reports of various DRPS Committees were also laid on the Table of the House.
A Report of the Inquiry Committee in respect of Justice S K Gangele, Judge, Madhya Pradesh High Court were presented on the Table of the House.
During the Session, 210 Starred Questions and 2,239 Unstarred Questions were admitted and answered. Of these 46 Starred Questions were orally answered.