Upset at bulldozing bills,Oppn to write to LS, RS chair

Upset at bulldozing bills,Oppn to write to LS, RS chair

“Democracy and Parliament are being murdered. As we predicted yesterday, this govt used its brute majority in Lok Sabha to bulldoze the faulty RTI Bill. Next stop is Rajya Sabha. Twelve Bills have been passed with no scrutiny. This is unreal. Trinamool will not allow democracy to be smothered. Time for talking is over. It is time to put our thoughts in writing,” Trinamool Congress O’Brien said. (DH File Photo)

Upset at the haste with which bills are “bulldozed” by the government without adequate parliamentary scrutiny, Opposition parties will meet on Tuesday to discuss the issue and possibly submit a joint letter to Lok Sabha Speaker and Rajya Sabha Chairman expressing their anguish.

On July 19, the government had expressed its intention to pass 16 bills in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha this week but the Opposition has been pressing for sending crucial bills like RTI Amendment Bill, DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill among others to parliamentary committees for closer scrutiny.

The Opposition also complains that bills once passed in the Lok Sabha, where the BJP has “brute” majority, are rushed to the Rajya Sabha in a day and many a times MPs are not getting enough time to submit amendments or study those submitted by others.

The issue was raised by Opposition MPs in the Rajya Sabha Business Advisory Committee (BAC) with Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien, saying it has become a “toothless, time allocation committee”.

Senior MPs from Opposition, including from Congress, Trinamool Congress, DMK and AAP among others, have expressed dismay at the way the bills are rushed through with sources saying they were contemplating sending a joint letter to the presiding officers of both the Houses.

“Democracy and Parliament are being murdered. As we predicted yesterday, this govt used its brute majority in Lok Sabha to bulldoze the faulty RTI Bill. Next stop is Rajya Sabha. Twelve Bills have been passed with no scrutiny. This is unreal. Trinamool will not allow democracy to be smothered. Time for talking is over. It is time to put our thoughts in writing,” Trinamool Congress O’Brien said.

On Monday, Trinamool Congress MPs walked out of the Rajya Sabha during the discussion on Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and later announced they were “boycotting” the debate, claiming that parliamentary conventions were subverted.

They said the Bill, soon after passing it in Lok Sabha, was transmitted to Rajya Sabha at around 5 PM on Friday and as per rules, they had time till Monday evening to submit amendments. However, they claimed they were given time till Monday noon and it was taken up for debate in the afternoon depriving them of their rights.

Opposition MPs claimed that they were given the list of amendments at 2 PM when the Bill was taken up and nobody had a chance to study it.

Citing the examples of the first sessions of previous Lok Sabhas, a senior Opposition MP said very few bills were passed then as Standing Committees were not in place. "Someone said that this is not the Gujarat Assembly. I agree with that. This is Parliament of India," he said.

"You are telling us how the Lok Sabha sits till midnight. It's not time but the quality that matters. Are we having scrutiny? A student may be studying for six hours while another may be doing it for one hour. But the latter may score well," he said.

Since the Parliament was convened, he said there was only one short duration discussion (on electoral reforms). Sources said senior Opposition leaders have now been informed that the government is not ready for a short duration discussion on media freedom.