August 11, 2019

The Week in Parliament

CPI(M) Parliamentary Office

IN Rajya Sabha, K Somaprasad spoke on the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019. This Bill is a comprehensive legislation. It is high time to enact such a law in the country. It will help tackle the menace of illegal deposit mobilising activities in the country. Non-banking entities are allowed to raise deposits from public under provisions of various statutes enacted by the central and state governments. Various ponzi schemes are still operating in the society. This Bill will put an end to this illegal practice. The Bill provides for deterrent punishment for promoting or operating unregulated deposit taking schemes and also provides for punishment for fraudulent defaulting repayment to deposits. Specific provisions regarding a person accepting loan from his friend for some family emergency or medical need or personal reasons and not returning it, and a builder taking advance for house and failing to deliver the same to the buyer should be incorporated. My suggestion is that the government should allow maximum publicity about this Bill, especially in rural areas.

Speaking on the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019 in Rajya Sabha, K K Ragesh raised certain serious concerns relating to the amendments proposed in the Bill. The proposed amendments provide for a time-bound resolution process. In the IBC itself it has already been stipulated that after receiving a resolution application, the NCLT must determine the existence of default within 14 days. An average time, which the NCLT takes, ranges from three to six months. In my opinion, merely fixing a time-frame in the law will not resolve the real problem. We will have to identify the real reasons. There are many reasons, and unless and until these issues are addressed, the exercise that we are doing is going to be in vain. The bankruptcy law has got two components: One, the insolvency of corporate establishments; and, second, the insolvency of corporate persons. I would like to know from the minister why one part of the Code has been notified whereas the other part, which is in fact the soul of the Code, has not been notified. At present, the bankers can initiate insolvency proceedings only against corporate establishments. Section 60 of the Code talks about insolvency resolution to proceed against individuals. That means, eighty-five per cent of the total loans was written off due to the resolution plan. In the event of successful resolution plan, what would be the liability of a corporate individual.

In Lok Sabha, P R Natarajan opposed the Code on Wages Bill. A detailed analysis of the proposed Bill does not exhibit any pro-labour intention, he said. An anti-labour stand of the government has been exposed. Minimum wages have to be considered as per the recommendation of the Indian Labour Conference as well as the Supreme Court advice. Regarding the wages, the definition is quite confusing. We want to know whether it includes overtime wages, house rent allowance, bonus. Altogether this is an unnecessary and unwanted Bill. It is part of the anti-labour policy of the government.

Speaking on the Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 in Lok Sabha, A M Ariff pointed out that intensive efforts are required to be taken to protect the interests of the poor, rural consumers as they are not left with enough time to go through the procedures. A variety of products available through e-commerce needs to be bought under the purview of the Bill. The Bill does not grant the authority to proceed against any person guilty of violation of the Rules. Quick disposal of cases is essential as justice delayed is justice denied. I would like to seek a clarification from the government on the average time taken to dispose of the cases. The doctor community has raised apprehensions regarding definition of deficiency which may lead to a situation where doctors will not be ready to take risk and doing treatment. I request the government to send this Bill to the Standing Committee.

In Lok Sabha, S Venkatesan opposed the National Medical Commission Bill, 2019 and pointed out that this is against the rights of state governments. This is also against the idea of social justice. Tamil Nadu produces a large number of doctors in the country. But due to several examinations including NEET, Tamil Nadu has become the worst affected state. You said that NEET was introduced to check and stop commercialisation of medical education. But that aim has failed. Most importantly, this Union government wants to treat the state governments as lifeless local bodies. Not only this legislation, every other Act of this present government is aimed at this.

In Rajya Sabha, Elamaram Kareen opposed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 and requested the government to send it to a Select Committee for wider consultations. He said this Bill is not for the protection of Muslim women's rights, but to create an insecure feeling among the largest minority community in our country. Our party opposes the practice of instant triple talaq. At the same time, we also urge that all personal laws, including those for the majority community, require reform. The Supreme Court has already struck down the practice of instant triple talaq as null and void. This is the hidden agenda of this government to impose the ideas of Uniform Civil Code in our society. The Bill is discriminatory in nature. It deals with the cases under the Code of Criminal Procedure. All other religious marriage Acts deal with the cases under the Code of Civil Procedure and have simple penal provisions in case of their violation. Nowhere, the court has said that the instant triple talaq needs to be criminalised. Muslim female literacy rate is at 50.1 per cent, which is also lower than all other communities. If the government is serious, it should take up these issues. The Personal Law has the protection of Article 25 of the Constitution of India. The government has no right to interfere in this. The present legislation is unconstitutional and ill-motivated. Speaking on the Bill, K K Ragesh said it is a dark day as we are making an assault on plurality and secular fabric of our country. Triple talaq has already been banned by the Supreme Court. But, unfortunately, the government is using the Supreme Court's verdict to target a community as Hitler and Mussolini had done. Minorities are being targeted in our country. On criminalization of politics, the Supreme Court had directed the government to bring legislation. Why is the government not bringing the legislation? But, unfortunately, the government is so eager in bringing a legislation that protects Muslim women. It is ridiculous.

On the Inter-state River Water Disputes (Amendment) Bill, 2019, A M Ariff said in Lok Sabha that it is an attack on the federal structure of the country. Like all other Bills, these Bills are also having political motivation. I would like to know about the implementing mechanism. The Bill is silent on this. Inter-State water dispute is a complex issue. No doubt, the government stands for centralization instead of decentralization.

Other Issues

Elamaram Kareem requested the government to recognize persons working in central government schemes as ‘workers’. More than one crore workers engaged in different schemes of the central government such as Anganwadi, ASHA, SSA, Mid-Day Meal are getting a meagre remuneration in the name of honorarium. There is a long-pending demand to recognize them as workers. The 45th Session of the Indian Labour Conference had recommended to recognize them as workers and extend social security and other benefits and not to privatise this sector, but this recommendation has not been implemented so far. I urge the government to implement the recommendation of the 45th Indian Labour Conference.

K K Ragesh spoke on the need to ensure basic facilities and affordable treatment to cancer patients. Recent reports reveal the fact that the country's ranking is third in the number of cancer cases, after US and China. In our country, every year one lakh new cancer cases are reported. Every eight minutes one woman dies due to cervical cancer. About 90 per cent of cancer reasons are external reasons such as alcohol, tobacco. In Kerala, cancer cases are alarmingly increasing. The national average of cancer patients is 106 per one lakh people. I am requesting the minister to send a special team to Kerala to study the effect of cancer in Kerala.  I am requesting the government to organise awareness programme and set up world-class cancer institutes in every state.