August 13, 2016 10:09:07 am
“It was a glorious session”, an elated Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar exclaimed as the Monsoon Session of Parliament came to a close today.
Kumar, new to the job, had reason to smile, for, the session saw the passage of the contentious Constitution (122nd Amendment) (Goods and Services Tax) Bill, besides 13 bills by both Houses. Separately, the Lok Sabha count of the bills passed during the session was 15 and the Rajya Sabha, 14.
“It is a historic tax reform of the century,” said Kumar, who otherwise has a reputation for being very reticent. “We have to take it (GST Bill) forward”, he said, adding that “Assam has already taken the lead” by ratifying the Constitutional Amendment. “The beginning has been made from Ishan (the corner between north and east, which is considered very auspicious ),” he said.
The latest session, according to Kumar, “was very susccessful in recent years”. To support it, he stated that the productivity – utilisation of the time alloted by business advisory committees (BACs) – had been 110.84 per cent in the case of the Lok Sabha, and, 99.54 per cent in the case of the Rajya Sabha. The session commenced on July 18 and had a total of 20 sittings spanning 26 days. The Lok Sabha sat for 121 hours and the Rajya Sabha for 112 hours.
The 13 bills passed by both Houses were The Regional Centre for Biotechnology Bill, 2016, The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016, The Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2016, The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, 2016, The Indian Trust (Amendment) Bill, 2016, The national Institutes of Technology Science Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2016, The Instituites of Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2016, The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016, The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill, 2016, The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, 2016, The Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, 2016 and The Enforcement of Security interest and Recovery of Debt Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
Two other bills, The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and The Appropriation (no 3) Bill, passed by the Lok Sabha and transmitted to the Rajya Sabha for its recommendation, are not likely to be returned to the Lower House within 14 days. Therefore, they will be deemed to have been passed under Article 109 of the Constitution.
The highlight of the session was what Chairman Hamid Ansari described as “an animated debate” preceding the passage of the Constitution (122nd Amendment) Bill, which would facilitate the introduction of a new indirect tax regime. The Lok Sabha later put its seal on the amendments made by the Upper House.
In the Lok Sabha, of the 400 starred questions listed, 99 were answered orally. Written replies to the remaining starred questions along with 4,600 unstarred questions were laid on the Table. In the Rajya Sabha, 300 starred questions were raised and answers to 3,101 unstarred questions were laid on the table.
Kumar said at least one discussion was held every week. Both Houses discussed the recent violence in Kashmir valley, atrocities on Dalits and price-rise.
The Lok Sabha held discussions on the “Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)” and price rise and Sustainable Development Goals. The Rajya Sabha also took up discussions on the status of implementation of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 and the role of Governors in the light of developments that took place in Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh.and the Draft National Education Policy.
The Lok Sabha took up two Calling Attention motions – one, with regard to the construction of barrage projects over river Mahanadi by Chhattisgarh and thereby impacting flow of water into Hirakud dam in Odisha, and two, on the spread of Encephalitis in Eastern Uttar Pradesh.
An important development in the Lower House was the decision of Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to constitute a nine-member inquiry committee to go into the conduct of AAP member Bhagwant Mann following videography of the Parliament security system by him. Both Houses resolved to refer The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to a Joint Select Committee. While 59 elected, re-elected and nominated members came in to the Rajya Sabha, BJP member Navjot Singh Sidhu, a Presidential nominee, resigned.
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