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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Lok Sabha passes bill to amend public sector general insurance law

The Bill was introduced on Friday by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi |
Updated: August 3, 2021 2:09:00 am
Nirmala Sitharaman in the Budget 2021-22 had announced a big-ticket privatisation agenda which included two public sector banks and one general insurance company. (Photo: Screengrab @ LSTV via PTI Photo)

The Monsoon session saw another acrimonious day in the Lok Sabha on Monday due to the stalemate between the Treasury and Opposition benches.

Amid Opposition protests over the Pegasus spyware controversy and farm laws, a Bill to amend the general insurance law — to allow the government to pare its stake in state-owned insurers — was passed without debate, while another to abolish as many as nine appellate tribunals set up under various Acts was introduced.

The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021 is aimed at generating required resources from the Indian markets so that public sector general insurers can design innovative products.

Opposition leaders alleged that the government deliberately brought the Bill, which has far-reaching impact and was introduced on Friday, amid the protests for consideration and passing without discussion. “The Bill is a dangerous one – it’s in a way de-nationalising the public sector general insurance companies,” RSP MP N K Premachandran said.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury objected when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman stood up to withdraw the Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Bill. “By riding roughshod over the Opposition’s legitimate right, the Government has been bulldozing one after another legislation without any discussion.”

The Bill, introduced in the Budget Session, could not be passed at that time and an ordinance had been promulgated in its place on April 4.

On Monday, Sitharaman introduced a fresh Bill, The Tribunals Reforms Bill, in its place to amend nine Acts — the Cinematograph Act 1952, the Customs Act 1962, the Airport Authority of India Act, 1994, the Copyrights, Act, 1957, the Patents Act, 1970, the Trade Marks Act, 1999, Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001 and the Control of National Highways (Land and Traffic) Act, 2002.

The amendment is aimed at abolishing tribunals or authorities under various laws by amending various statutes to streamline the justice delivery system. All cases pending before such tribunals or authorities will be transferred to the Commercial Court or High Court, said the statement of objects and reasons of the Bill.

The government pushed the Bill in the afternoon even as the Opposition MPs — of the Congress-led UPA, Left, BSP, SAD and TMC — continued shouting slogans and raising placards demanding a discussion on the Pegasus issue, standing in the well of the House.

The House witnessed repeated adjournments. Before adjourning the House till 12 noon, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla asked the Opposition members to go back to their seats and said that crores of money has been spent to run the House. “This House is for discussion and dialogue and to raise the problems of the people,” he said.

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