May 17, 2015


CPI(M) Parliamentary Office

HAVING once failed to get the nod of Rajya Sabha for its anti-farmer land bill, the government made another attempt to get it passed by Parliament and introduced the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015, which seeks to replace the re-promulgated ordinance, in the Lower House. In its attempt to push through the land bill and other legislations, the government even extended the Budget Session of Lok Sabha by three days till May 13. Both Houses of Parliament passed the Constitutional (119th Amendment) Bill clearing the decks for ratification of the historic land boundary agreement between India and Bangladesh. Supporting this bill, CPI(M) MP Md. Salim said in Lok Sabha that India and Bangladesh had signed the Indira-Mujib agreement in 1974. We took 41 years to bring this issue to Parliament and settle it whereas Bangladesh had ratified it in 1974 itself. We want good relations with our neighbours. We need to increase regional cooperation. People living in enclaves have many issues relating to agriculture, livelihood, healthcare, law and order and education. Now they will be able to get rid of these problems. This is only the beginning not the end. In Rajya Sabha, while supporting the historic endeavour Ritabrata Banerjee said the life of the enclave dwellers is, basically, miserable. One crore and 50 lakh of Bengali people are basically residents of nowhere. They are practically men of ‘nowhere land’. There is no demarcation that separates enclave dwellers. The communities have the same culture and same food habits. Many people in these enclaves are going through an identity crisis. Life is often dangerous for these enclave dwellers. These enclaves have no basic amenities, no hospitals. These enclaves remain, till date, an enigma. Now the long overdue exchange, will improve the lives of all residents of the enclaves. A loss of small territory is illusory. Humanity will win. Partition was not done by the people of Bengal, but the people of Bengal have suffered due to partition. This is really a historic occasion. Rajya Sabha also took up the Appropriation Bill, 2015 and the Finance Bill, 2015. Speaking on this, Tapan Kumar Sen said we are in severe fiscal constraint and this was aggravated by the government's praiseworthy decisions of devolving more funds to states by increasing their share from 32 percent to 42 percent. This has also resulted in reduction of fiscal space and further cutting down of allocation for health, education and other centrally-sponsored schemes. The government’s whole approach is to speed up growth. But on which sector is this growth based on? If it is to be an employment-generating growth, it has to focus on the expansion of the domestic market. But the government's allocation pattern and the economic management, all taken together, are acting in squeezing and shrinking the domestic market. Manufacturing growth and manufacturing investment appear to be down. Big corporate houses are not paying back the loans. How much is the share of your giveaways to them and how much relief have you given to the workers and the salaried class? The government has given a lot of concessions on MAT to foreign institutional investors. It has again deferred the GAAR for two more years, while suffering from a severe fiscal constraint, is that a logical thing to do? The government are imposing burden on the people by increasing indirect tax revenue by cutting down allocation on various social welfare schemes in the field of health, education, etc. Separating RBI from the Public Debt Management responsibility will not be a very good proposition. Hence the Minister must reconsider deferment of GAAR and bring it back and to permanently defer this PDMA. He also urged the government to reconsider the remuneration to be given in central flagship schemes, particularly Anganwadi, Mid-Day Meal and ASHA. In Lok Sabha, though the opposition made an effort to refer the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill to the parliamentary standing committee it failed and subsequently the bill was passed. The opposition demanded for voting and the Congress staged a walkout before the voting. The bill was passed with 352 members voting in favour of the bill and 37 against it. Speaking on the bill, Jitendra Chaudhury said there must be some provisions to compensate the states for a certain period for their revenue loss. There are some states having their resources, minerals etc, but they are not the manufacturing or consuming states. So, those states would be losing their revenue. Therefore, all the states should be looked after and get the benefit. Secondly, it is proposed in the Bill about the formation of a GST Council. This GST Council should be empowered by the legislation. Unless the states are empowered and benefited; and if the taxes and revenue would not flow to the states, how would be the very fundamental programmes undertaken by the states? With regard to alcohol, there should be some thought given to it whether alcohol and other related products should be brought under the collective net. We would recommend that this Bill should be referred to the Standing Committee. In the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments, the local bodies were empowered to raise some resources for their development and for other things. In this Bill, there is no clarity on that. So, this issue should be discussed further. The Lok Sabha passed the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill providing for trial of juveniles aged between 16 and 18 for heinous crimes under laws governing adults. Over 40 amendments moved by the government were adopted while those moved by the opposition MPs were kept out. Speaking on this, Md. Badaruddoza Khan said we know that there are some heinous crime cases like 'Nirbhaya'. It is also partly true that crimes being committed by children in the age group of 16 to 18 years are increasing and to combat this situation, the new Bill is being introduced, though there are differing views within the Cabinet, within the Standing Committee, and among experts and social activists. Before making such a major sensitive change in this Act, we must think why crimes being committed by juveniles are increasing. Everybody knows about cruelty to child labour. Due to poverty, children are working very hard like adults in brick-kilns, small industries, shops and in agriculture sector. The net result is that juveniles are acting like adults. Now, we are going to introduce harder laws then before. This Bill will possibly violate articles 14, 21 and 20 (1) of the Constitution. The provision of juveniles between the ages of 16 and 18 to be tried as an adult is not in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child. A solution to the problem has to be thought of within the parameters of the Juvenile Justice Act itself and this can be done by strengthening the institutions under the Act. One immediate amendment that can be moved is to remove the upper limit of 3 years for detention under the present Act to a suitable period agreed upon by all concerned persons. Thus, the Amendment suggested in the Juvenile Justice Bill 2014 is short-sighted and unjust and against all tenets of human rights. It will not lead to either public safety or improvement in juvenile behaviour. To achieve this, the Juvenile Justice Act should be strengthened. First save the childhood of the juveniles and then punish if necessary. In Rajya Sabha, during the calling attention the matter regarding the situation arising out the huge disparity in air fares of airlines to various destinations in the country was discussed. Speaking on this, K N Balagopal said air fares are very high, they are varying from Rs 6,000 to Rs 60,000 or Rs 80,000. This is happening not in the case of domestic flights only but in the international flights also. There is no regulation. The government must do something to regulate the exorbitant fee charged by the airlines. Speaking on the issue of safeguard of net neutrality in the country and strongly criticising the 'Consultation Document' published by the TRAI, Ritrabarata Banerjee said in Rajya Sabha that the document only supports the interest of telecom companies and internet monopolies against the people. There is a continuous demand that the Internet must declared a “public utility” because the Internet is a source of knowledge, a means of communication and a vehicle for all forms of media. A number of telecom companies are offering special packages. They bundle a few websites and applications with their services, pretending that this Internet is the whole Internet. This is a dangerous thing because such cartels between the telecom companies and a few global Internet monopolies will lead to further concentration of economic power on the Internet. Demand for Grants-Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment Speaking on this, Jharna Das Baidya said our Party demands reservations for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the private sector and a legislation to prevent discrimination in the allocation of resources for these sections. Relative to the size of the Indian economy, the magnitude of the Union Budget spending has seen a continuous decline since 2009-10. The Union Budget (2014-15) has violated the guidelines to allocate Plan resources for the Tribal Sub-Plan and the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan at least in proportion to the ST and SC populations. There should be extension of constitutional requirement of reservation to all sectors of employment. The government has cut allocations for the Scheduled Caste Special Component Plan. We condemn the attacks on minorities. Funds meant for SCs/STs are being diverted to other projects by many states. The government should look into the matter. While supporting the Delhi High Court (Amendment) Bill, 2014, K N Balagopal in Rajya Sabha said the pecuniary limit of Rs 20 lakh is to be increased to Rs 2 crore for Delhi civil courts. As per the Civil Procedure Code, all district courts in the country are free to try cases up to any amount involved in it. So, civil courts should have the same pecuniary jurisdiction and the system of augmenting the limit every ten years or five years has to be changed. Lok Sabha took up the Compulsory Voting Bill. Speaking on this, Sankar Prasad Datta said the intension of bringing this Bill is good but the question lies in the whole process of electioneering. The whole process of electioneering is to be a good one. So, the need of the hour is the change in the election process. Throughout the world, 94 countries have taken up the process of proportional representation. The government should sit with all the political parties to have discussion on this issue. We see today that by getting 31 per cent votes, the BJP has the majority. Actually, the real representation is not being seen in our House. The government should take proper measure. (END)