New Delhi, March 31 (IANS) Opposition leaders in the Rajya Sabha on Friday demanded that no government bills should be taken up or passed on Fridays, when the attendance of members is usually thin.
They accused the government of devising a new way to get contentious bills passed “behind the back of the opposition”.
The issue was raised by Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien regarding the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was listed in the day’s business.
“It is our earnest request to the government to not list any bills for Friday afternoon,” O’Brien said, mentioning how the government got the contentious Enemy Property Bill passed on a Friday in the absence of any opposition member.
The Enemy Property Bill was passed by the House on March 10, a Friday, with only the ruling party MPs present, as the few opposition members present at the time when the Bill was taken up, staged a walkout in protest.
The second half of Fridays is reserved for private members’ bills in the Rajya Sabha, and not many MPs remain present at that time.
Trinamool’s Sukhendu Sekhar Roy added that if private members’ bills collapse on Friday before 5 p.m., the Chair should adjourn the House for the day.
Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad accused the government of trying to get contentious bills passed in the absence of opposition members and demanded that no government bill should be taken up on Fridays.
“When Enemy Property Bill came up in Business Advisory Committee meeting, it was unanimously decided, and the government was on board, that all political parties would sit together and reach a consensus and then only it will be discussed,” Azad said.
“The decision was about consensus, and there was no all-party meeting. The government did not inform us (of bill being taken up) and on Friday when there are hardly any MPs present, the bill was brought and passed behind the back of opposition MPs,” he added.
“The government has now chosen this route that they would bring on Friday a bill which they normally are not able to pass in this House, and would get it passed when opposition members are not there,” Azad said.
He demanded that no bill should be taken up on Fridays even if the private members’ bill “collapses at 3 o’clock or 4 o’clock”.
“You may adjourn the House for the next day but there should not be any bill whatsoever (on Fridays),” Azad said.
However, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that the business listed for the day may be taken up if the private members’ bill collapses before 5 p.m.
“If you are not ready to discuss, SC/ST issue, then let’s take up other listed matters. We may take up Jairam Ramesh’s short discussion on Aadhaar,” Naqvi said.
Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien said that there is no rule that the Chair can postpone a listed business albeit with the consensus of the House.
“I don’t want to comment on what happened that day (March 10). But the Chair has to go by the consensus of the House,” Kurien said.
Azad objected to the position and said: “How can you call it the consensus of the House when no opposition members were present. It was the consensus of only the treasury benches.”
Naqvi contended that the government could not be blamed for the absence of opposition members from the House.