New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) Parliament passed the historic Goods and Services Tax bill during its “productive” monsoon session that concluded on Friday, with the opposition seeking to corner the government on a range of issues like price rise, the Kashmir situation and atrocities on Dalits.
The Lok Sabha saw productivity of 111 per cent and the Rajya Sabha 100 per cent during the session that had 20 sittings.
“I am happy that productivity in the Rajya Sabha was about 100 per cent and for the Lok Sabha about 111 per cent. Monsoon Session was productive. Thanks to all parties and members for their constructive support,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said after the two houses were adjourned sine die.
The passage of the GST Bill came as a big relief to the government as it had been pending in the upper house — where the government lacks majority — for over a year due to lack of consensus on the demands put forth by the Congress.
The far-reaching amendment to the Constitution in this regard, which was passed unanimously in the two houses following walkout by the AIADMK, will pave the way for a pan-India goods and services tax regime and create a unified market across the country by doing away with a multiplicity of central and state levies.
While the Lok Sabha passed 13 bills during the session, the Rajya Sabha passed 14 bills. The two houses also adopted resolutions on the prevailing situation in the Kashmir Valley.
Both Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari termed the session productive.
“I am glad to say the session was highly productive. There were debates of national concern and discussions on many subjects,” Ansari said in his valedictory remarks.
Mahajan noted that the Lok Sabha lost over six hours and 33 minutes due to interruptions but it sat late for over 18 hours to discuss various important issues.
The session saw unprecedented controversy following Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker Bhagwant Mann uploading a video on the social media that showed him crossing security barricades in his car.
A nine-member panel was set up to look into the issue and its term has since been extended.
PRS Legislative, a non-profit organisation, which tracks work of Parliament, said the government was able to get approval for 14 of the 15 bills it had planned to get passed during the short session that commenced on July 18.
“The highlight of this session was Parliament’s focus on debating issues related to Dalit atrocities, SDGs (sustainable development goals), Kashmir and the draft education policy. In addition, Parliament passed key legislation like the GST and compensatory afforestation. Looking at the number of working hours of both houses and bills passed, the monsoon session has been productive,” said Trina Roy, Programme Officer, PRS Legislative Research.
However, she said, it was not the only parameter to look at while understanding Parliament’s functioning.
“It should be kept in mind if adequate debate and scrutiny was undertaken during the passage of these bills,” she added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi took part in the discussion on the GST Bill in the Lok Sabha.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi participated in the debate on price rise in the Lok Sabha and strongly attacked the government.
Congress members also took potshots at the government over the demand for a special status to Andhra Pradesh.
Fifty-nine elected, re-elected and nominated members joined the Rajya Sabha during the session.
Navjot Singh Sidhu, a BJP leader and nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, created a flutter in political circles by resigning from his membership. He is speculated to join the Aam Aadmi Party.
It was also the first session after the reshuffle of the Union Cabinet. Compared with some of the previous sessions, there were fewer disruptions.
“Perhaps, everyone has realised that stalling parliamentary proceedings helped nobody,” BJP member in Rajya Sabha Satyanarayan Jatiya told IANS.
The bills passed by parliament during the monsoon session include Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, The Dentists (Amendment) Bill, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill,the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Bill, the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) Bill and Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill.