Parliament Latest updates: Acrimonious scenes were witnessed in Lok Sabha on Friday during the debate on a bill which seeks to remove the Congress president as a permanent member of a trust that runs the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial. Seeking the passage of the bill, Culture Minister Prahlad Patel said the government wants to end politics involved with regard to the Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust.
Rajya Sabha passes UAPA (Amendment) Bill 2019 with 147 ayes against 42 noes.
Countering the argument raised by P Chidambaram Amit Shah said, “My contention is the same. If we ban one organisation, another one comes up by same individuals. Till when will we keep banning organisations? Till we blacklist an individual as terrorist, it is impossible to reign in their work.”
Congress MP P Chidambaram wondered who does the government have in mind when they insist on naming individuals as terrorists under the stringent bill. He said, when you talk of internal security and such a disproportionately stringent law, let me remind you you can’t compare Hafiz Saeed to Gautam Navlakha, a Left-wing rights’ activist who is currently under detention on charges related to the sedition law.
“Now the act deals with Unlawful Activities and it deals with terrorist acts. They are not the same, they are defined separately… Why I say this is, even before the Amendment individuals are covered under this act – an individual who commits an act is punishable under this act. There is no distinction between punishing an unlawful association and punishing a member of an unlawful organisation. If they are covered, why do you bring this amendment?”
CPI(M)’s Elamaram Kareem in his argument against the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act says, “This will lead to large scale harassment.” He cites the previous POTA and TADA laws under which, he says, thousands of Muslims were arrested. “You don’t want the opposition to speak against you,” Kareem says in a scathing statement.
The Rajya Sabha is continuing the discussion on the UABA bill from yesterday, while the Lok Sabha is taking up matters of urgent public importance raised with the permission of speaker.
The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on Thursday, while the National Medical Council Bill, 2019 got the Rajya Sabha‘s nod.
The POCSO (Amendment) Bill, 2019 provides for stringent punishment for sexual crimes against children and death penalty in cases of aggravated sexual assault. Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said 6.20 lakh sexual offenders were listed in the national database and they were being tracked by investigative agencies. She also expressed concern that the number of juvenile perpetrators of crimes is increasing.
In her reply to the debate on the Bill, Irani said the government was working to create 1,023 fast track courts under the Nirbhaya fund to provide quick justice in cases of crimes against women.
“Eighteen states have come on board to see that these courts are established between 2019-20 and 2020-21,” she said. She also said that about Rs 75 lakh would be spent in creating infrastructure for each court.
The minister expressed concern over the “slow rate” of conviction in POCSO cases. She said that steps had been taken for witness protection and states were urged to create witness protection fund. Irani said children in CBSE-affiliated schools were being given awareness about “good touch and bad touch”. She also said there were 680 child welfare committees of which 444 were working to full strength while 509 of 675 Juvenile Justice Boards were working at full strength.
Urging the Lower House to pass the Bill, Irani said that 60 percent of the people using the internet were of ages less than 24, and there had been an instance of 5,000 people subscribing to an online porn channel which had the video of a crime. She said the bill will protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensure their safety and dignity.
Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha passed the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2019, through a voice vote. The NMC Bill, which was tabled by Health Minister HarshVardhan, replaces the Medical Council of India (MCI) with a National Medical Commission.
“When history will be written, this Bill will be recorded as the biggest reform of the Narendra Modi government. You may mock the Bill but when it is passed today, the day will be written in golden words,” Vardhan said. The Bill was cleared by the Parliament amid protests from the medical fraternity who fear it would lead to deterioration of medical education and degradation of healthcare services.
Vardhan asserted that the changes being brought in the medical education would lead to a better future. He also put to rest concerns raised by some MPs about NEET and NEXT exams, community health providers, reservation of the states and institutionalisation of quackery. “Twenty-one of the 25 members of the NMC are doctors and they will decide what will be the minimum qualification required to be community health providers. This is a WHO-approved practice,” he said.
On concerns over less representation of states in the NMC, the minister said of the 25 members of the council, 11 are state representatives. He added that NEET has been accepted by aspiring doctors and that there will be a cap on fees for MBBS courses.
Congress’ Jairam Ramesh opposed the Bill, saying 75 percent of the health expenditure is done by the state government and the Centre wants to control that. The former union minister said the current representation of members in the NMC is against the interest of states and asked if the proposed Exit Exam will be a test of theoretical knowledge or that of clinical capability as well.
AIADMK’s Vijila Satyananth said, “The government should first introduce a standard education policy and system across the country and only then can they impose a common entrance test across the country.” Trinamool Congress’ Santanu Sen opposed the Bill calling it “of the ambiguous, for the ambiguous” and sought it to be sent to the Select Committee. He said appointments to the NMC and admissions to government medical colleges will be controlled by the Centre.
The Bill provides that the common final year MBBS exam be known as National Exit Test (NEXT) which would serve as a licentiate exam for entrance to post-graduate medical courses and as a screening test for foreign medical graduates.
The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019, that provides a 330-day timeline for insolvency resolution process and specifies minimum payouts to operational creditors in any resolution plan, was also passed by the Lok Sabha.
Tabling the Bill, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman referred to the death of Cafe Coffee Day founder-owner VG Siddhartha in mysterious circumstances and said the role that the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) will play in terms of resolution will need combined efforts of all members.
Sitharaman said that letter and spirit behind IBC was to keep the companies “a going concern” and mergers, demergers and amalgamations were among means for achieving it rather than blindly going into liquidation. She said that as many as 6,079 cases had been disposed of even before admission under IBC.
Sitharaman said the amendments will bring greater clarity to mergers, demergers, and amalgamations as part of the resolution process. She said it lays greater emphasis on time-bound disposal at the application stage itself.
Lok Sabha also passed the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill before the House was adjourned for the day. The Bill provides for the speedy appointment of arbitrators through designated institutions and seeks to create an independent body to grade arbitral institutions.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad that bill was an effort towards making India an international centre of arbitration. “Judiciary should also be consistent as far as arbitration is concerned,” he said. Prasad said the government was keen to encourage institutional arbitration for settlement of disputes and make India a centre of robust Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism.
An uproar was witnessed in the Upper House when MDMK member Vaiko objected Vardhan for replying to a debate in Hindi. As soon as Harsh Vardhan started replying in Hindi to a debate on the NMC Bill, Vaiko objected to it and asked the minister to respond in English. “I will speak both in Hindi and English,” the Health Minister said.
Rajya Sabha was adjourned for 10 minutes in the post-lunch session after the opposition parties created ruckus over the absence of Vardhan and his juniors during a debate on the NMC Bill, 2019.
As Satyananth was speaking on the Bill, Congress and Trinamool Congress members noticed the absence of ministers and raked up the issue. Responding to it, the Leader of the House Thaawarchand Gehlot said, “The Minister is coming. It is the collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers. I am taking notes on the issues raised by the members and will give it to the minister.” As the din continued, the Deputy Chairman adjourned the House for 10 minutes.
The Rajya Sabha then discussed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, before being adjourned till 11 am on Friday.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Your guide to the latest cricket World Cup stories, analysis, reports, opinions, live updates and scores on https://www.firstpost.com/firstcricket/series/icc-cricket-world-cup-2019.html. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates throughout the ongoing event in England and Wales.
Parliament LIVE updates: Rajya Sabha negates motion to send UAPA Bill to Select Committee by division of votes – Firstpost