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Lok Sabha amends Act on unlawful activities amid Congress walkout

The Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, however, listed the Bill as one of the seven the government should agree to refer to select/standing committees for detailed scrutiny

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Parliament | Photo: PTI

Amid a walkout, Opposition protests and drama during voting on the Bill, the on Wednesday passed the amendments to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, however, listed the Bill as one of the seven the government should agree to refer to select/standing committees for detailed scrutiny.

According to the initial schedule, the session was to conclude on Friday. However, the government has indicated that it could extend the ongoing Parliament session by as much as two weeks and has in its bag a slew of Bills that it wants passed.

The Opposition plans to remain united in being able to persuade the government to send if not all seven, at least some of them, to standing committees.

The seven Bills, Opposition parties have identified are Right to Information, triple talaq, labour reforms, unlawful activities prevention, DNA technology, inter-state river water disputes, and the occupational safety Bill.

Of the seven, the Opposition could make its stand non-negotiable on sending the RTI amendment and triple talaq bills to select committees since not just most of the opposition parties, but also some of the BJP allies have concerns on these bills. The Biju Janata Dal and Telangana Rashtra Samiti have reservations on amending the RTI Act.

On Monday, the passed The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill. It was listed for discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, but the Opposition and the government agreed that the House will only debate the amendments to the protection of children from sexual offences law. The Rajya Sabha later passed the Bill.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, the leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said in the House that the RTI Bill should go to the standing or select committee. “State committees are being diluted (under Right to Information Act). We are representatives of the states. If states’ rights are diluted, we should talk about it. We demand that the Right to Information Amendment Bill should be sent to the select committee,” he said.

“It is the government and Opposition, which passed 14 Bills. There are 18 to 19 Bills, which are transmitted to Rajya Sabha. We have given a separate notice that seven Bills should be sent to select committees if standing committees are not in place, for further improving them,” Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien said.

Leader of the Rajya Sabha Thawar Chand Gehlot said, “When the (RTI) Bill is not in discussion, how can we discuss about that (referring a bill to any committee).”

In the Lok Sabha, the and other Opposition parties demanded the Bill to amend the unlawful activities prevention law should be referred to a standing committee. The and the Trinamool Congress walked out in protest.

At the end of the discussion, AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi demanded a division to register his opposition to the Bill. Other MPs said there should be a rule to disallow a single member wanting a division. “It is my right... Who are you to object...House belongs to everyone,” Owaisi said. The government's resolution was adopted by a margin with 287 in favour and eight against. It was done through ballot papers, and MPs having to stand up to be counted, and not electronic voting since members are yet to be allotted their seat numbers.

In the Rajya Sabha, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

First Published: Wed, July 24 2019. 22:19 IST