After days of adjournments, the Rajya Sabha unanimously passed the crucial SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill along with two bills on supplementary demands for 2015-16, within minutes without any debate.
The House returned to Lok Sabha the Appropriation (No. 4) Bill and the Appropriation (No. 5) Bill containing the second batch of supplementary demands as part of grants for 2015-16 to meet government’s expenditure.
As the House reassembled at 2 PM after four adjournments earlier, the Opposition criticised the government’s move to bring the Juvenile Justice Bill through the supplementary agenda route.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad objected to this saying that the ruling party itself was complicating the issue.
“We have said that we want to pass the SC/ST Bill. At the all-party meeting, I had said that the Juvenile Justice Bill should be tabled. But it was not in agenda today. But because of media reports, the government has now put it in the supplementary business. It is only a ruse to shame the opposition in public by saying that we had presented (the bill) but the opposition had objected,” Azad said.
He said the matter can be taken up tomorrow and should be listed as the first in the business.
“This is being done only so that the media and public criticise us. Don’t use the House to play the media,” Azad said.
Following this, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien took up the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2015.
This was passed unanimously through a voice vote without any discussion. Congress leader Hussain Dalwai did not move his motion for certain amendments after his party asked him not to do so.
There was thumping on the desk as the House passed the Bill.
The two Appropriations Bills were also passed in a similar manner without any discussion.
TMC leader Derek O’Brien stood up and told the Chair that it was important to mention that the Bills were passed unanimously and not in a din.
To this, a smiling Kurien said, “How can there be din? There is perfect calm and tranquility. Everybody is cool. A cool breeze is blowing. I don’t know where this breeze is coming from”.
As Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi sought taking up of more Bills, Azad hit back saying, “all of us have agreed and I said we will pass Bills in the next three days. We had said we will pass the SC/ST Bill and we have fulfilled our promise.”
“We have shown our efficiency, capability and cooperation by passing the three Bills in such a short time. We should not be penalised for our efficiency”.
Naqvi then stood up and urged the opposition to “show some more strength”.
The opposition members argued that it was decided at the all-party meeting that after the passage of the Bills, there would be debates on issues like intolerance, floods, price rise and the issue of Arunachal Pradesh, on which there was an agreement.
The Congress received support from CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury who said discussion on these issues should be taken up after the bills have been passed.
As Naqvi insisted that more bills be passed today, Congress members came into the aisles and then entered the Well shouting slogans demanding the resignation of the Finance Minister over alleged bungling in the DDCA. Kurien then adjourned the House till 3 PM.
When the House again met at 3 PM, the government wanted to take up “The Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill, 2015” but the Congress opposed it saying it can be discussed tomorrow. As a result it was put off.
D Raja (CPI) said while some bills including the crucial SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill have been passed without any debate, “this should not be a precedent. No bill should be passed without a discussion. This should not be a precedent for other bills. No bill should be passed without a discussion.”
Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (Trinamool Congress) said the rules of the House should not be dispensed with.
While Kurien found nothing wrong in taking up the bill as well as the related statutory resolution on the subject citing availability of time, Azad as well as Congress’ Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma insisted that the SC/ST bill on which there was a consensus has already been passed.
He said government should not be taking up any more legislative business today.
Naidu said an impression should not go that government or Opposition do not want to pass the bill and appealed to the Opposition to “clear the backlog” of pending legislative business in the House.
Kurien said the minister’s appeal should be given due consideration.
Naidu was keen that like the other three bills, this bill too could be passed without a discussion or with a discussion. Opposition members, however, did not relent.
A BJD member wondered why the particular bill could not be taken up when there is time for it.
Finally the government gave in to the demand of the Opposition and agreed for the House taking up a short duration discussion on the serious situation arising due to floods and drought in the country that was raised by KC Tyagi of JDU.