E-rickshaw bill introduced in Parliament

As the NDA government introduced a Bill on plying e-rickshaws in capital, the opposition attacked the Centre for repeatedly bypassing business advisory committee that finalises agenda to introduce legislations directly in Houses and managed to stall discussion on it.

Though the entire opposition was up in arms over government trying to “impose Bill in the House” without prior intimation as RSP MP N K Premachandran had dubbed, deputy speaker AIADMK leader M Thambidurai ruled out differing the introduction of the legislation as he said a supplementary list circulated at 3 pm had referred to the Bill’s tabling on Monday afternoon.

He, however, allowed the members to give notices on the Bill which would be considered to give voice to their arguments when the Bill is discussed in the House.

Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Kharge Mallikarjun Kharge sought the Chair’s attention by urging that he had raised this issue earlier when Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu had brought a Bill without discussion in the BAC.

The senior Congress leader lamented, “It has happened for fourth time within a span of 15 days.”

Charging the government of “breaking convention”, Kharge requested the presiding officer to defer the Bill and take it back to the BAC for discussion.

Leaders from Congress, CPI(M), AAP and TMC argued that members should be given notice in advance so that they get time to prepare and are free either to oppose or give amendments.

But introducing the Bills straight in the House impedes on parliamentarians rights and is against legislative practice, they felt.

Naidu accepted the opposition’s contention but at the same time, stated that the government was not trying to “hijack” parliamentary business. The Bill was not about motor vehicles act but on e-rickshaws. “Allow introduction and the debate can take place later,”  he requested the House.

Union Minister for Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari clarified that the Bill emerged due to a court ruling restricting plying of battery-operated rickshaws.

About two lakh such rickshaw owners and drivers have become unemployed and the Bill attempts to relax norms to get them back on roads.  

The Bill, however, has political significance as well given the fact that Delhi is due for Assembly elections sometime early next year.

The Union cabinet last week had relaxed norms for issuing licences for e-rickshaw drivers.
After Delhi High Court banned plying of e-rickshaws terming them hazardous to traffic, the Transport Ministry had come with new rules for making drivers’ licence mandatory for driving the battery-run three-wheelers and limited the maximum speed to 25 km-per hour.

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