The Opposition on Thursday accused the government of pushing through Bills in the Lok Sabha in a hurry and changing the list of business late in the night giving little time to members to prepare for discussions. The Opposition has warned the government not to take members for granted.
Speaker Om Birla assured the Opposition that he would ensure members are aware of the Bills to be taken up for discussion at least a day in advance.
When proceedings began on Thursday, Congress leader of the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury raised the issue of the list of business having been changed late on Wednesday night. “Sir, these people are bringing Bills without informing us. At 10 pm we are informed that such and such Bill is going to be discussed. How will I prepare my members? How will I prepare the list of speakers? We should at least get two days notice.”
Chowdhury was supported by TMC MP Saugata Roy, who raised a point of order citing rules which call for a copy of list of business to be distributed among members in advance. “In yesterday’s list of business, three Bills were listed… The first one was Inter-State River Water Dispute (Amendment) Bill, second one was the Dam Safety Bill. So, members prepared for the Dam Safety Bill knowing that the Bill would be taken up for discussion today. Suddenly, this morning we find that the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill has been listed in today’s list… The Bill on POCSO has been listed and also the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill… Parliament cannot function at the whims and fancies of anyone,” Roy said.
However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said that every member had been given a copy of the Bills a fortnight ago and that the list of business was changed because the Opposition objected to a discussion on Dam Safety Bill.
“The Business Advisory Committee has allotted time. The Bills have been circulated. What’s the problem in that… As far as Dam Safety Bill is concerned, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury requested me not to take it up and thus we have postponed it. We have talked to the Leader of the largest Opposition Party. What wrong has the government done?” Joshi said.
Chowdhury said he had only objected to Inter-State River Water Dispute (Amendment) Bill and Dam Safety Bill being clubbed together.
DMK MP Kanimozhi too expressed displeasure at the state of affairs. “The practice is that if the Bill is not taken up on the given day, it will be taken up the next day. But suddenly, a new practice has come up that till 9 o’ clock, 10 o’ clock or 11 o’ clock, we have to wait for the revised list of business, and completely new Bills are brought in…There is a decorum to be followed in this House…You wanted to extend the House. We are cooperating with you but you cannot take us for granted to this extent.”
After TMC MP Sudeep Bandyopadhyay and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor made similar arguments, Speaker Om Birla said, “I will discuss the issue again in BAC. I will make sure that before the Bills are listed, the information is circulated among members at least a day in advance. Members will also be informed by the office of the Speaker.”