Updated: August 10, 2021 5:45:16 am
A Bill seeking to abolish several appellate tribunals, including the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, was approved by Parliament on Monday.
Rajya Sabha passed the Tribunals Reforms Bill, which was cleared by Lok Sabha last week, after a division of votes forced by the Opposition to refer the Bill to a select committee was defeated 79-44.
Opposition members, who were in the well of the House shouting slogans against the government as discussion on the Bill progressed, demanded a vote at the end of the debate. BJD’s Sasmit Patra, who was in the Chair, agreed to hold a vote, provided the MPs returned to their seats.
The division was taken up and the Opposition’s statutory motion seeking to send the Bill to a select committee for more scrutiny secured only 44 votes.
The Bill seeks to provide for uniform terms and conditions of the chairperson and members of various tribunals, and to amend many Central acts to abolish five tribunals: Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, Airports Appellate Tribunal, Authority for Advance Rulings, Intellectual Property Appellate Board, and the Plant Varieties Protection Appellate Tribunal.
All cases pending before such tribunals or authorities will be now transferred to the commercial court or the high court.
Replying to the discussion on the Bill, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman criticised the Congress for alleging that the legislation undermines the judicial system, and asserted that the government “fully respects” independence of the judiciary.
“The member from Congress raised the issue of judicial independence. Who is speaking? A member from the Congress, which during the Emergency completely curtailed the judiciary’s independence. Today, such a party asks us for judicial independence. What a shame. They are talking of judicial independence,” she said.
“If they want to talk about judicial independence, I want them to talk about the Emergency days, when the judiciary had no voice,” she said.
Dismissing the contention that the Bill violates Supreme Court’s rulings, Sitharaman said, “Judiciary has not struck it down on constitutionality. It has only raised certain questions on some points. We are here to make laws. Of course we have to keep in line with requirements of the Constitution…. We fully respect the independence of the judiciary, but we also remember the power of the lawmaking body where we are seated to make laws for the common people.”
Sitharaman said the primacy of the legislature in making law is as important as independence of the judiciary.
Earlier, several Opposition MPs rose to speak on the Bill but spoke instead on the Pegasus scandal, and were not allowed to continue by the Chair, who asked them to speak on the Bill. RJD’s Manoj Jha, for instance, said, “Like many Bills, this also is a brazen attack on the very foundational idea of rule of law and rule by law. But I am neither surprised nor shocked. They have done it through Pegasus.”
The Upper House also passed the Central Universities (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which seeks to establish a Central university in the Union Territory of Ladakh.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.