Amid din over the Pegasus spyware controversy, the Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed two Bills — The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021 and the Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021— without discussion.
Amid the Opposition’s sloganeering, the House had to be adjourned several times.
Earlier in the day, when the House met, Congress MPs, their UPA allies, Left parties as well as Trinamool MPs stormed into the well of the House shouting slogans. BSP and SAD MPs were seen protesting for withdrawal of the contentious farm laws.
Minister of State for Defence, Ajay Bhatt, presented the Essential Defence Services Bill for passage as the House convened at 2 pm. The Bill seeks to prohibit employees of ordnance factories from going on strike. It was passed by a voice vote without any discussion.
While the Opposition called the Bill draconian, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who was present in the House, said the government had taken all employee unions into confidence.
“This Bill has been brought so that there are no hindrances to supplies for our defence forces… It is possible that we may not even need to invoke provisions of this Bill. In any case, it is only for one year,” Singh said.
Bhatt said, “There is no law to ensure defence needs and supplies are met without hindrance…No worker or employee is going to be impacted.”
Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy said the Bill was anti-labour. “Workers have given a strike notice opposing the corporatisation of ordnance factories,” he said.
Bhatt said the Bill had to be brought because workers gave a notice of strike.
Speaking against the Bill amid the sloganeering, RSP MP NK Premchandran said: “This is a very important Bill. There are 41 ordnance factories… It is an indirect way of privatisation of OFBs. The sole purpose is to ban strikes. There are 84,000 employees. Their legitimate right to protest is being taken away… It is not fair to pass Bills in the din.”
Soon after the Bill was passed by voice vote, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla adjourned the house till 4 pm in the evening.
When members assembled again, the House passed another Bill — the Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021 — by a voice vote without any discussion.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who piloted the Bill, remarked that instead of participating in the debate, Opposition leaders were creating disturbance.
Congress’s Chowdhury, who had given a statutory resolution notice against the Bill, said an atmosphere for discussion is needed before any debate on the Bill. It is the responsibility of the government to create that atmosphere, he said. With
inputs from Liz Mathew
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