THE WEEK IN PARLIAMENT
CPI(M) Parliamentary Office
IN Lok Sabha, speaking on the flood situation in various parts of the country, M B Rajesh said that while Karnataka was declared drought hit, Tamil Nadu is facing devastating flood. The whole country has shown the great consideration and solidarity with the people of Tamil Nadu. I was participating in a fund collection in Cochin, within 20 minutes, we could collect more than Rs 1 lakh. As many as 302 districts out of 676 in the country are facing drought. Eight states have already been declared drought hit. The second consecutive drought year, followed by unseasonable rains that damage our winter crops in March-April, may cause a fall in farm incomes. In Telangana, one of the worst drought affected states, 1,713 persons have committed suicide from June last year to till date. In Maharashtra, 2,234 farmers have committed suicide between January and September this year. Despite manipulating the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data to show that the farmer suicide is actually coming down, the fact remains that it is increasing. If 60 per cent of our farmers are left out of your growth trajectory, what kind of an inclusive growth can we expect? No contingency plans have been put in place. The farmers are not even getting appropriate compensation for crop losses. Out of eight states, six have sought central assistance of Rs 20,000 crore. What is the status of release of central assistance? In spite of galloping prices of pulses, the farmers are getting meager price in the market and MSP. The corporate friends of this government are making huge profits when the country is hit by drought. All corporate agri-businesses are making huge profits at the expense of farmers and consumers. Suddenly, the government relaxes the norms of stock holding only to benefit these corporates. In addition to short term measures, the government should take some long term measures including enhancing public investment in agriculture. But in the past 20-25 years, investment in irrigation is badly affected. Even after 68 years of Independence, 60 per cent farmers are left at the mercy of monsoon. The farmers are not getting compensation even for their crop losses. A comprehensive crop insurance scheme should be formulated. I would like to know specifically from the minister whether he will assure this House that the government will implement the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations of providing credit to farmers at four per cent interest rate. What is need of the hour is to put in place correct policies, and abandon and reverse the wrong policies, Rajesh said.
Under a short duration discussion regarding the situation in Nepal and the state of Indo-Nepal relations, T K Rangarajan said that this is the greatest folly of the NDA government in international relations. Nepal is a sovereign country. If there is a problem in Nepal, people of Nepal are capable of settling their issues. It is not our job to interfere and instigate one section of the people. I request the RSS and other people to reconsider their approach on all these things. The Government of India should make statement stating that they will ensure free movement of vehicles in the border areas. With the Modi government's browbeating the Nepal government, Nepal is compelled to approach its another neighbour China. Our learned foreign minister may kindly explain to the august House as to why India has gone to the United Nations Human Rights Council. I would like to suggest to this august House that an all-party delegation should be sent to Nepal to show our friendly and fraternal relations with this country and its people. I emphasise that India should not interfere in the affairs of its neighbour. I hope that the foreign minister will take all this into account before she replies.
Speaking on the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salary and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha, A Sampath raised the points that why still the Supreme Court is in Delhi, having hearing in Delhi, filing in Delhi, disposing cases in Delhi. Why the Supreme Court hesitant to move out of Delhi, at least to have Circuit Benches? What about the National Judicial Appointment Commission? Indian judicial system has become costly affair, a rich man's game. It has become impossible. It is very difficult for a common man to seek justice. According to the protocol, an MP is equivalent to a High Court judge. There is no political difference in this. Now, what happens? They say, they dictate, they legislate, they execute and they punish. What about the Right to Information Act? MPs are subjected to RTI. Why the courts, why the judiciary is afraid of the Right of Information Act? You should withdraw this Bill and it should have given a thorough scrutiny of the Law and Justice Committee, that would have been much better. Why do we not have Indian Judicial Service? It is the judges who will decide their successors. Before concluding, I want to say this. Is there social justice in judiciary? How many people from SC and ST communities, OBCs, minorities are there in judiciary? How many women have come as Supreme Court judges? I again humbly request our (law minister) Sadananda Gowdaji to have a rethink on this Bill. Also, we have to legislate a comprehensive legislation on the salaries, allowances, pension, appointments, qualifications, etc., of the judiciary. The judiciary should be accountable to the people. The people of India are supreme. The judiciary should also ensure that social justice as enshrined in the Constitution is being implemented.
Speaking on the Indian Trusts (Amendment) Bill, 2015, P K Biju said that it is a very small but very important Bill. The government is interested in changing the Bill as, we think, it is helping all the corporates. This Bill seeks to amend Section 20 and 20A of the Indian Trusts Act, 1882 to empower the central government to notify a class of securities, for the purpose of investing trust-money.
The Lok Sabha passed the Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015. Speaking on this, P K Biju said that this Bill seeks to amend the First Schedule of the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951 to exclude the production of alcohol for potable purpose from the ambit of the said Act. The Bill confines to the Supreme Court's decision. I would like to ask the minister how it will affect taxation and other things. We are going to introduce GST and alcohol is one of the subjects not covered under it. Whenever we amend any law, we have to change it for a few more years, not for the present purpose only. So, I would request the government that whatever amendment to a law is placed before the House, it should not be to fulfil only the direction of a court. This 1951 Act itself gives an advice to the Centre to prepare a Council. So, I would like to know from the government whether the functioning of the Council is up to the mark as effective functioning of the Council is also very much required to establish the system in a smooth way.
Speaking on the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill, 2015, Md. Salim said we have already discussed this bill and the Bill passed by us is more often returned by Rajya Sabha with amendments and this is against the dignity and prestige of this House. We have to consider the same Bill twice. The government should, therefore, have some foresight and should bring the Bill after negotiations. Maybe, the government can bring the Bill through the Standing Committee. Then we will not have to reconsider it. This is not appropriate for Lok Sabha. I would appreciate the wisdom of Rajya Sabha.
In Rajya Sabha, the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was taken up. During discussion, Tapan Kumar Sen said this Bill aims at amending the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, 2011. The Bill has a very noble objective. The whistle blower plays an important role in fighting the corruption so they need to be protected. It is extremely important to expand the definition of 'public sector' for inclusion of private companies and agencies in its domain. Such private companies, offering benefits to people, must be treated as 'public servants' as they are duping the government exchequer and people of the country and in view of the fact also that a number of public services are being channelised through various agencies. Adequate safeguards should be provided so that misuse of any provisions for victimising the whistle blower is checked. My humble submission is that instead of rushing through it, let the Select Committee examine the issue, take care of all inadequacies and expand the horizon of definition of 'public servant'. I humbly request the government also to please accept the proposal of sending this Bill for a time-bound examination by the Select Committee. (END)