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Winter session of Parliament ends; GST remains pending

Winter session

New Delhi : The stormy Winter session of Parliament ended today, leaving the crucial economic reform bill GST pending and evoking some strong comments by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari who asked MPs to introspect and desist from “demeaning the stature” of the House.

The Session, which began on November 26, had 20 sittings in all and out of this, Rajya Sabha lost 47 hours due to disruptions caused almost every day by Congress which raised one issue after another.

The Lok Sabha performed a little better as it passed 13 bills and saw discussions over various issues like price rise, flood and drought situation, despite repeated uproar created by the opposition Congress over various issues.

The Rajya Sabha, which saw passage of nine bills, could not, however, clear the pending GST bill which provides for overhauling the direct tax structure of the country as Congress steadfastly maintained its opposition to it.

But the parties, except the Left, came together in the Upper House yesterday to pass the Juvenile Justice Bill under which the age of trying a juvenile as an adult in heinous crimes like rape was brought down from 18 years to 16 years.

The House virtually rushed to pass this pending bill against the backdrop of the public outrage over the release of a juvenile convict in the December 2012 gangrape-cum-murder after spending three years in a reform home.

The disruptions in both Houses were caused over issues like summons by a Delhi court to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case, atrocities on dalits, role of Arunachal Pradesh Governor and demand for resignation of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in connection with alleged irregularities in DDCA.

The Rajya Sabha also saw uproar over Congress member Kumari Selja’s remark about being asked about her caste at a temple in Gujarat, alleged anti-Dalit remarks of Minister V K Singh and RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s reported comments on Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Taking a serious view of the disruptions, the Rajya Sabha Chairman asked the MPs “to introspect on this state of affairs (and) desist from approaches and practices that demean the stature of the Rajya Sabha.”

The Lok Sabha passed 13 bills and was considerably much productive as compared to the last Monsoon session which was a virtual washout due to the ruckus caused by the opposition which had been pressing for ouster of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over various allegations.

In this session, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan preferred to carry on with the listed business even as protesting Congress members stormed the Well and shouted slogans, many times walking out of the House for the day.

She twice threatened to take action against the Congress members who were disrupting the House by asking officials to note down their names.

In the last session, she had suspended as many as 25 of the 44 Congress members for their unrelenting disruptions.

This session saw the rare action of the Speaker expunging her own controversial “vested interests” remarks made about Congress members yesterday.

In her valedictory remarks, Mahajan said, “I hope this coming year brings new hope and new energy in our lives and we reflect with resolve that in the New Year we will take conscious decision while using all Parliamentary instruments to forcefully register our dissent and disagreement, if any, and will attempt to ensure less disruptions.”

The House passed 13 bills, including the Bureau of Indian Standards Bill, the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Bill and the National Waterways Bill.

The Rajya Sabha passed or returned nine Bills, including the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, the Appropriation Bills, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill.

On the last day, the Upper House passed four bills, three of them within a few minutes without any discussion.

The Bills passed today were the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill, the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, the Atomic Energy (Amendment) Bill, the Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill.

The Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 was referred to the Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2015, referred to a Joint Committee of both the Houses.

There were short-duration discussions on damage caused due to North-East monsoon rain and floods in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh situation in Nepal and the state of Indo-Nepal relations and the flood and drought situation.

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