Monsoon Session of Parliament Day 4: Venkaiah Naidu briefly halts telecast of RS proceedings; Congress accuses officer of spying in LS

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The Rajya Sabha witnessed noisy scenes on Monday, which first led to a pre-noon adjournment, and later prompted an upset Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu to stop the telecast of proceedings for close to 15 minutes. In Lok Sabha, the proceedings were marred after Congress members took strong objection to an officer allegedly taking notes of the debates in the Lower House from the Officers’ Gallery.

The bills that were schedule to be introduced in Lok Sabha on Monday were: The National Sports University Bill 2018, The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (Amendment) Bill 2018, The Homeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Bill 2018, The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill 2018, The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, The Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2018. The bills scheduled for consideration and passing were: The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill 2018, The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2017, and The National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

Meanwhile, the bills scheduled for consideration and passing in the Rajya Sabha were: The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment) Bill, 2018, The Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2018, The Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017.

Ruckus in Rajya Sabha

The Opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) forced a pre-noon adjournment of proceedings in the Rajya Sabha after its members trooped into the Well of the House over their demand for special category status for Andhra Pradesh.

TDP members led by YS Chowdary and CM Ramesh were on their feet as soon as listed papers were laid on the table of the House.

Naidu said their notice has been converted into a short duration discussion which would be taken up on Tuesday.

There also was a minor verbal clash between Opposition Congress and treasury benches on Anand Sharma’s Zero Hour mention of parallel FIRs on the same alleged offence being registered by the CBI, the DRI and the ED in “targetted vendetta”.

While treasury benches said Congress was trying to “demoralise” investigating agencies, Opposition members saw them being “abused” by the government.

Naidu’s repeated pleas to members to return to their seats went unheeded, forcing him to adjourn the proceedings till noon.

Later in the day, when the TDP members continued to create ruckus in the Rajya Sabha over special category status for Andhra Pradesh, a visibly upset Naidu ordered the telecast to be stopped and said “only voice will go; noise will not go”.

Congress MPs object to officer taking notes from gallery

During the Question Hour, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge brought the attention of Speaker Sumitra Mahajan that an officer was standing in the officers’ gallery, taking notes of the debates and even counting the number of MPs present in the Opposition benches.

“It is surveillance. Who is he? Why is he taking notes? He is counting the number of MPs,” Kharge said amidst vociferous protests by his party MPs.

The Speaker assured the agitated members and said she could not see the Officers’ Gallery from her seat but she will look into the matter. “I will see to it,” she said.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said the concerned officer belonged to his ministry and was doing his duty.

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Lok Sabha proceedings were telecast live and everyone can see what is happening in the House. “People can even see who is winking in the House,” he said in an apparent dig at Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Alwar lynching case raised in Lok Sabha; BJP protests

The lynching of a man in Rajasthan’s Alwar district was raised in the Lok Sabha on Monday by a Congress MP, triggering protests from BJP members.

Karan Singh Yadav of the Congress raised the issue during Zero Hour and said it was the fourth such incident in the state.

Those who claimed to be ‘gau-rakshaks’ (cow protectors) are behind this murder, he said amid protests by some BJP members and also attacked the police for wasting time in taking the victim to hospital, leading to his death.

The deceased, 28-year-old Akbar, was thrashed by a group of people on suspicion of being a cow smuggler in Lalawandi village in Alwar on Saturday. Meanwhile, the government set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) under home minister Rajnath Singh and a panel headed by the home secretary to deal with the growing number of lynching incidents.

During an impromptu intervention at the end of the day’s sitting in Lok Sabha, the home minister told the Lok Sabha that the panel will give its report in 15 days.

The move came days after the Supreme Court asked the government to enact a law to deal with such incidents, terming them as “horrendous acts of mobocracy”.

Bill for stringent punishment in rape cases introduced

In Lok Sabha, The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018—a bill that provides for stringent punishment, including death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below 12 years—was introduced by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju. It seeks to replace an ordinance brought by the government in April.

The bill provides that the minimum punishment for rape of woman under 16 years will be rigorous imprisonment for at least 20 years which can extend to life. The punishment for gang-rape of a girl below 16 years will be imprisonment for the rest of life of the convict.

The punishment for rape of a woman aged under 12 years will be rigorous imprisonment of at least 20 years but may extend to imprisonment for life or death. Gangrape of a girl under 12 years of age will lead to punishment of jail term for the rest of life or death.

The minimum punishment in case of rape of woman has been increased from seven years to 10 years, extendable to imprisonment for life. Under the new law, there will a two-month time limit for completion of investigation of rape cases.

Bills that were passed

Parliamentary approval was accorded to the Specific Relief (Amendment) Bill, 2017, giving an affected party—whose contract has not been performed by the other party—the option to arrange for completion by a third party or by its own agency (substituted performance) with the Rajya Sabha passing the legislation.

The Bill, that amends the Specific Relief Act, 1963, had earlier been passed by the Lok Sabha and is set to become a law after the president’s assent.

Under the Bill, certain civil courts may be designated as special courts by the state government in consultation with the chief justice of a high court to deal with cases related to infrastructure projects.

A Bill for quick prosecution in cheque bounce cases and provide compensation to the complainant was passed by the Lok Sabha.

The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, which was passed by a voice vote, provides for allowing a court trying a cheque bounce offence to direct the drawer (person who writes the cheque) to pay interim compensation to the complainant.

This interim compensation, not exceeding 20 percent, may be paid under certain circumstances, including where the drawer pleads not guilty to the accusation within 60 days of the trial court’s order to pay the compensation.

The Lower House also passed a bill to amend the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) Act seeking to provide post-facto approval to those approved institutions which are funded by the Centre or states, but do not have recognition under the 1993 law.

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