MPs flag judicial encroachment as RS bids farewell to 53 members

MPs flag judicial encroachment as RS bids farewell to 53 members

The issues of alleged "encroachment" by judiciary on the rights of legislature and media accountability were today highlighted by MPs in Rajya Sabha as it bid an emotional farewell to 53 retiring members.

Samajwadi party leader Ram Gopal Yadav said Parliament members are concerned over "encroachment" on legislature's rights by judiciary.

Constitution, he said, has given Parliament the right to legislate laws and make budget.

"If the judiciary does it what is our relevance," he said asking the government to discuss the issue during the monsoon session of Parliament.

Parliamentary honour, strength and supremacy has to be maintained, he said. "Constitution has drawn clear lines."

Yadav found support from BSP Chief Mayawati who said "we should act unitedly, especially on important issues" and rise above political affiliations.

"We would have to look within" why judiciary is taking advantage, she said.

"We should act unitedly and especially on important issues we should rise above political affiliations," the BSP leader said.

Just two days back, Finance Minister and Leader of the House Arun Jaitley had voiced concern over the issue, saying judiciary was "step by step, brick by brick" encroaching upon the legislature.

"With the manner in which encroachment of legislative and executive authority by India's judiciary is taking place, probably financial power and budget making is the last power that you have left. Taxation is the only power which states have," he had said while asking the Congress to "reconsider" its stance on GST in his reply to a debate on Finance Bill.

"Can't you see, step up step, brick by brick, the edifice of India's legislature is being destroyed. And outside the Appropriation Bill, we are being told to create this levy this fund," he had said.

The members including Congress leader Anand Sharma today stressed on the important role played by the Upper House in raising the level of debate and correcting "flaws" in key legislations.

Sharma said a wrong image was created outside that no work is transacted in Rajya Sabha, adding obstructions are part of democracy and are used to put across reservations on policies and programmes.

Yadav said while some people have mocked Rajya Sabha as "second-grade" house of unelected, the Upper House has its importance.

Legislations passed by Lok Sabha in a rush are debated and discussed at length in Rajya Sabha to correct any flaws, Yadavsaid.

Referring to the media, senior leader of JD(U) Sharad Yadav, who is among the retiring members, stressed on striking a balance on the issue of freedom of speech
"Only politicians are accountable...but others must also have some accountability," he said, adding the maximum hiring and firing is in the media sector.

"Owners have become editors," he said.

Dilip Kumar Tirkey (BJD) said the fourth estate plays an important role, but cautioned against the ill effect of "paid news or match fixing".

J D Seelam (Congress) expressed concern over "commercialisation" of politics and incidents where public representatives are lured by money.

He said that while it is said that courts should not interfere but the legislature should also examine what it is doing.

The issue of disruption of proceedings was also raised by members. Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (SAD) said in the democracy one should "discuss, debate and decide".

Without referring to any one in particular, he said when members rush to Well of the House, smaller parties do not get time to raise their issues.

He also made a case for special session of parliament to discuss judicial reforms.
Tapen Sen (CPI-M) said in a democracy, it is the numbers which decide, but efforts should be made to reach consensus on different issues.

He said members may argue or even quarrel in the House, but things never go to "personal level".

Kanaklata Singh (SP) gave an emotional farewell speech in which she said people in politics should realise that it is means to serve people.

She lamented the frequent disruptions especially during Question Hour and Zero Hour that prevented many a MP like her from raising issues even after a lot of preparation.

Singh, daughter of former Parliamentarian Mohan Singh, called for upgradation of Gorakhpur Medical College to a super speciality hospital and Gorakhpur University to a Central University.

V P Singh Badnore (BJP) raised the issue of disruptions of the House and demanded that members creating ruckus and stalling the proceedings be penalised.

"It is a matter of shame and we hang our heads in shame when we disturb the House. We should evolve a system whereby if members come to the Well and disturb, they should not be allowed to come to the House for the next two days," he said urging Chairman Hamid Ansari to act against such members.

Chairman Hamid Ansari merely remarked, "the rules are made by the members."

Ansari said parting is painful and more so when it involves a colleague and friend. He said every member retiring has "contributed significantly".

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said politicians don't retire and end of term in Rajya Sabha does not mean retirement from public life. While some may come back, others may change positions.

"All members have significantly contributed in enriching the House," he said.

On a lighter note, Kurien said in his sincerity of running the House, he may have been harsh on some members but it was in spur of moment and he continues to be good friends will all of them outside.

Sharad Yadav, a parliamentarian for almost four decades, said "members in large numbers are retiring today and my number has also come" but added that in politics there is no such thing as "farewell".

He said a large number of members have contributed towards nation building, but the country is yet to reach the place where it should have been. The level of development is not uniform across the country.

In a brief speech, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) quoted the first stanza of a 'Bombay Ka Babu' song by Mukesh to convey his wishes to the retiring members. 'O janewale ho sake toh laut ke aana ' (You are going, if possible do come back).

Mayawati said political parties asked the retiring members not to feel saddened today and said that it is their responsibility to use this experience to work for their parties and  the country.

Vishambhar Pradad Nisad (SP) said he belongs to a poor family and had come to know from TV that his party had selected him for Rajya Sabha.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill also figured with Prime Minister Narendra Modi ruing that Rajya Sabha did not approve the biggest indirect tax reform measure since independence in this session.

The MPs lost out on an opportunity to be part of a historic move that would have immensely benefited the states, he said.

In his speech, Congress leader Anand Sharma blamed the ideological differences for the delay in passage of some bills saying these had led to stalling of the GST bill for years when the UPA was in power.

UPA had piloted the GST bill but BJP-ruled states like Gujarat had opposed the draft.
BSP Chief Mayawati said the government should bring the GST Bill during the next session and assured support of her party.

Chandan Mitra (BJP) said the Rajya Sabha, with the vast experience and knowledge of its members, can act as a "intellectual fountainhead" to Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

"There should be some scope for debating key issues," he said, adding that the Upper House should have had debates on the meaning of nationalism as well as prominent issues like wildlife and environment.

The BJP leader said he has learnt a lot ever since he first became a member of the Upper House in 2003 and is retiring after two terms. He concluded his speech with a poem written by Urdu poet Faiz.

K P Ramalingam (DMK) said he represented the farmers and called for having a separate budget for the agriculture sector.

V Hanumantha Rao (Cong) thanked his leadership for providing an opportunity to represent the backward classes. He also raised issues pertaining to development of Andhra Pradesh and sought their early resolution.

Several members like Ashk Ali Tak (Cong), Ishwar Lal Jain, Arvind Kumar Singh (SP) spoke about their tenure in the Upper House where they raised on various issues.
Baishnab Parida (BJD) said that corruption is the biggest enemy of the country and also emphasised on the importance of promoting regional languages.

Tarun Vijay (BJP) in his farewell speech expressed concern over poverty, discrimination against dalits and also emphasised that soldiers should be given due honour. He also said that issues related to dyslexic children should be discussed in the House.

Mohisina Kidwai (Cong) said that university in diversity is the country's strength and it should be ensured that the atmosphere in the country is not vitiated. She also said that Mahatama Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru have left a rich legacy which should not be forgotten.

K C Tyagi (JD-U) in a lighter vein remarked that he would now be able to make long duration speeches, which were not allowed in the House by the chair and may even use unparliamentary words.

Pyarimohan Mohapatra (Ind) expressed "frustration" that when he raised issues related to interests of states like Odisha, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand, the support he expected was missing.

The Upper House, he said, is the council of states and this support should be there for legitimate claims.

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