New Delhi: Ahead of Tuesday’s Parliamentary session, it had emerged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken umbrage at opposition leaders’ conduct in Parliament, and Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien’s ‘papri chaat’ jibe.
O’Brien had Monday hit out at the Modi government for rushing through bills in Parliament, wondering if the Centre was legislating or making papri chaat.
On Tuesday, despite the prime minister terming O’Brien’s remarks as being an insult to the nation, the government pushed through three bills in Parliament in about 30 minutes without any discussion.
At 2 pm, when Lok Sabha reconvened after an adjournment in the morning, the House passed the Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021, without a discussion, in about 15 minutes.
The bill was passed through voice vote amid opposition protests over a number of issues, particularly the Pegasus spyware row. The din forced another adjournment.
But there were similar scenes when the Lower House reconvened at 4 pm. This time, the treasury benches pushed through The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2021, clause-by-clause in a record 10 minutes. The legislation was passed through a voice vote amid protests from the opposition.
It was no better in the Rajya Sabha. The House passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2021, in about 20 minutes, following a brief discussion and amid a ruckus created by opposition parties.
The opposition was demanding a debate on Pegasus and the farmer protests among other issues. But when the Upper House reconvened at 2 pm, BJP member Bhubaneshwar Kalita in the chair asked Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to move the bill.
Opposition members soon trooped to the well of the House and began protesting.
The chair called on Amar Patnaik of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to initiate the discussion, before at least four other members — Banda Prakash (TRS), M. Thambidurai, K. Ravindra Kumar (TDP) and V. Vijaysai Reddy (YSRCP) — participated in the debate.
Following this brief discussion, the bill was moved for passage in the Upper House and was passed through a voice vote.
Ruckus in the Lok Sabha
In the Lok Sabha, the Minister of State for Defence, Ajay Bhatt, moved the Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021.
The bill is aimed at preventing the employees of the government-owned ordnance factories from going on a strike, with violators likely to attract a fine and a jail term. There are about 70,000 staff in about 41 ordnance factories across the country.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) MP from Kollam, N.K. Premachandran, objected to an important bill being passed amid the ruckus.
He was backed by the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who said the bill should not be passed “when the House is not in order and without discussion”.
“It is a serious issue but the government is passing the bill without any discussion,” he said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, however, told the House that the government had taken all employees of the ordnance unions into confidence before passing the bill.
The scenes repeated at 4 pm when Finance Minister Sitharaman moved The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Bill, promulgated as an ordinance earlier.
With this, the government seeks to abolish tribunals and shift their work to high courts.
“Since various cases are pending at different courts, the government brought in an ordinance urgently,” Sitharaman said. “The opposition kept saying the government is running through ordinances. But when we have come with a bill, you are preventing its passage. You are creating a constitutional impasse.”
Congress’ Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “It’s serious encroachment of judicial power in the bill. You are passing the bill without any discussion. The bill was passed in less than 10 minutes.”
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Arjun Ram Meghwal, however, blamed the opposition for the bills not being discussed.
“The government is ready to discuss these bills but the opposition is not,” he told ThePrint. “There was a debate in the business advisory committee meeting, that discussions would be allowed on any issue, but they are only making noise on non-issues and killing the productivity of Parliament.”
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)