Vol. XLIII No. 03 January 20, 2019

The Week in Parliament

CPI(M) Parliamentary Office

CPI(M) leader P Karunakaran raised the Sabarimala issue in the zero hour . He said it is a historical verdict because it  is to protect the right of the citizens especially the rights of women to go to the temple. Not only we, Uma Bharati, Subramanian Swamy, Maneka Gandhi and many other BJP leaders and the Congress leaders have upheld this verdict. The Congress high command also must disclose their stand on the SC verdict about the rights of all women to go to the temple. The government of Kerala has to protect and keep the verdict. We have seen that 55 lakh women have constructed a women wall from Kasargod to Thiruvanathapuram.

In Lok Sabha discussion was on issues related to Rafale Deal. While speaking on this Mohammad Salim said that the price of each aircraft was increased by 47.7 percent. The benchmark price had to be corrected before and then negotiations should have been carried out, but the PM made a declaration prior to correction of benchmark price and then the government gave a false statement in the SC. Air vice- chief had said that the benchmark price should have been 5.2 billion euros but it was increased by 3.2 billion euros for each aircraft. All the objections were not addressed by the committee under the then minister of defence. We could have increased our capability. The company which could not even run airport metro in Delhi, we are asking it to manufacture aircraft in collaboration with Dassault.

The Constitution (124th Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed in the parliament by voting in both the houses. This is the bill which provides 10 percent reservation in jobs for economically weaker sections in the general category.  From its introduction in Lok Sabha to the final approval in Rajya Sabha, this 124th amendment to the Constitution was cleared in two days. In Rajya Sabha CPI(M) submitted amendments, which were not accepted.  

Speaking on this Jitendra Chaudhury pointed that in principle we are not against this Bill, rather our successive governments in West Bengal, Tripura and now in Kerala have been implementing similar programmes though, not in reservation or in this fashion. A number of learned members have already mentioned that the ruling party during the last elections made certain promises for generating 2 crore jobs each year. But the government till yesterday failed to supply any information to the nation. Everybody is also very much aware that today and tomorrow the working class of this country has resorted to nationwide strike. More than 20 crore workers are participating in the strike. What is their main demand? Their demand is that the government should ensure jobs with minimum salary of Rs 18,000 per month. It comes to Rs 2.16 lakh per annum for the unorganized workers. Now the government has brought the bill that reservation will be given to persons having income up to Rs 8 lakh per annum. Is it not a mockery? Refer it to the Joint Parliamentary Committee or Standing Committee so that there may be more discussion and this bill may be passed more comprehensively in this house.

In Rajya Sabha Elamaram Kareem while discussing on the same bill pointed that government is not sincere in giving any protection to down trodden people. Government has abjectly failed in creating employment in the past four-and-a-half years. Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy report reveals that more than one crore employment was lost due to demonetization. The existing quota for SC, ST and OBC is not being filled up. Benefits of reservation are increasingly eroded by pursuit of aggressive neo-liberal policies and by keeping the private sector outside the purview of reservation. Kerala is number one amongst all Indian states in Human Development Index. Sir, the life expectancy in Kerala is 75 years of age while our national average is 64. Literacy rate is highest in Kerala. The Infant Mortality Rate in Kerala is the lowest and their living conditions are at par with the developed countries. It was achieved not just with reservation, but the government of Kerala from 1957 brought in land reforms, developed public education system, developed the public distribution system, protected the labour rights, implemented labour welfare measures, empowered women and strengthened people's participation  in administration.

Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which seeks to accord citizenship to people from six non-Muslim minority communities of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who seek to escape "religious persecution" in those countries. Speaking on this Mohammad Salim pointed citizenship is never determined on the basis of language, religion, caste or sex. The citizenship originates from the constitution which is framed on the basis of certain universal values. The government wants that the Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan should be welcomed in this country so that Indian Muslims could be told to leave this country. I, therefore, oppose this Bill because citizenship cannot be determined in a secular state on the basis of religion.

Union Minister of Labour Santhosh Kumar Gangwar introduced the Trade Unions (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha. The opposition along with CPI(M), Congress and RSP staged walk out after terming it "draconian and unconstitutional". While opposing the introduction A Sampath said this bill is unconstitutional and against the spirit of Article 19(1)(c ) that is enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India. This Bill is also against Article 23 and Article 24 which is enshrined in Part IV of the Constitution of India. The provisions of Article 43 and Article 43(a) of the Constitution of India have been violated by introducing this Bill. Here, rules 72, 172, and 174 have also been violated. M B Rajesh also opposed the same on four grounds. Firstly, this Bill has not incorporated the unanimously agreed formulation between central trade unions(CTU)  and the ministry of labour and employment regarding the definition of a CTU. Secondly, the government is usurping wide discretionary powers in the matter of recognition of CTUs. Thirdly, this bill has not addressed the issue of mandatory recognition of trade unions by the employers at the enterprise level. Fourthly, this is part of this government’s labour law reforms which is taking away the right of working class to form trade unions.

The Rajya Sabha passed the National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill, 2018. While speaking K K Ragesh pointed that this bill seeks to grant retrospective recognition to certain institutes and also provides for retrospective permission to join new courses that had already been started. I would like to know from the minister as to which are those institutes that would be benefited out of this bill and whether any private institutes are involved therein. I urge upon the government to empower state governments to regulate the fees and admission so that students from the socially and educationally backward sections get admitted to these institutions. The NCTE must be filled with academicians, not with bureaucrats.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2018 passed in Rajya Sabha. While opposing this Bill K K  Ragesh pointed that the government is trying to reinstate the older detention policy as a remedy to low quality in school education. It is their thinking that teachers are not teaching and students are not learning because of the present non-detention policy, which is absolutely wrong. The Kothari Commission had recommended for ensuring six percentage of the GDP on education and ten percentage of the central budget on education. But we are in a position to provide less than four percent of our central budget on education

The Lok Sabha passed the DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill, 2018.  Speaking on this P K Biju pointed that National Data Bank will store DNA profiles received from the DNA laboratories and receive DNA data from the regional banks. The government has allotted only Rs 20 crore for this purpose. How can we meet the expenses for establishing such a huge infrastructure? If private entities are allowed to play a role in this field, it will badly affect the privacy of our people. A few months back we noticed that the Aadhaar data of our people got leaked. So, I want to know from the government as to what steps they have taken to protect the privacy of the people in this bill.

The Lok Sabha passed the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018. While speaking on this P K Biju said this bill seeks to enforce consumer rights and provide for a mechanism for redressal of complaints and correct deficiencies in goods and services. The commission is sought to be headed by a government servant. There would be doubt if that will provide a proper remedy for complaints made by consumers. We would like to raise this issue that the presence of people from the judiciary is very much necessary in different commissions for common people to get justice and benefit.

Speaking on the same bill Joice George pointed that the Central Consumer Protection Council is also envisaged under this Bill. Another issue is mediation and I have got my genuine doubt as to what extent mediation can help in redressing the grievances of consumers.

P K Biju while opposing the Supplementary Demands for Grants (General) 2018 - 19 pointed that the present government has  failed to save the agriculture and farmers in this country. The suicides of farmers are continuing. The percentage of GDP has reduced from 1.15 per cent to 1.08 per cent. The rate of unemployment has increased from 3.6 percent to 4.85 percent. I would also like to request the government to increase the number of man-days from 100  to 200 days.

Lok Sabha passed the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2018 and pointed that this is a small  bill but this implicates the medical field very much. If somebody is selected as a commission member, the qualification must be laid down.

Lok Sabha passed the Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018. While supporting the bill Mohammad  Badaruddoza Khan pointed that when leprosy was not curable there were many divorces. Now it is a curable disease. There was the decision of the SC and the recommendation of the Law Commission in this regard. But people's mindset is still not clear. So, public awareness is necessary. It should be started at the school level.

Rajya Sabha passed the National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (Amendment) Bill, 2018. While speaking on this Elamaram Kareem pointed that the National Trust Act be amended in accordance with the provisions of the UNCRPD and the RPD Act.

In Rajya Sabha while speaking on the statutory resolution approval of the proclamation issued by the President on the December 19, 2018 under Article 356 of Constitution of India in relation to State of Jammu and Kashmir, T K Rangarajan pointed that the action of J&K governor, dissolving the legislative assembly at the behest of the centre, in my opinion, is an illegal and unconstitutional step. Over 300 civilians have died in the last three years. We request to conduct the enquiry as the present situation has only led to further alienation of the people.

Jharna Das Baidya raised the matter that the Women's Reservation Bill was passed in this House in 2010 but nothing has been done so far. There is meagre strength of women members in parliament, legislative assemblies and local bodies.