August 18, 2019

The Week in Parliament

CPI(M) Parliamentary Office

THE CPI(M) opposed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 in both houses of Parliament. In Rajya Sabha, T K Rangarajan said today is a black day. The government did not consult the people of Jammu and Kashmir or Ladakh. The government dissolved the Assembly and don’t want to hold any election. It has taken 35,000 armed personnel there. You are creating another Palestine! Tomorrow you can do anything with any State. Tomorrow you can bifurcate any State. So, the Constitution itself is in danger. Our party, the CPI(M), warned the people before election that RSS-BJP will destroy the Indian Constitution. They will destroy the Indian unity. So, my party is very sympathetic towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir. I would like to remind, on behalf of the entire opposition, one thing -- there are some opposition parties which supported it, they will also realize it tomorrow. The life of the Kashmiri people, the future of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the future of the people of Ladakh is in danger. You are Hindus and you are cancelling the Amarnath Yatra! In the name of Hindus, you are destroying the Hinduism. We fully oppose this Bill. We stand with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. K K Ragesh also opposed the Bill in Rajya Sabha and said that we are witnessing assassination of the Constitution, and the democratic ethos and secular fabric of our country is being questioned. Our Constitution is under threat. I request all the people of our country to stand united and fight against the government, because they are killing the State of Jammu and Kashmir. I request the government not to do it because we do not want a Palestine State of India. There should not be any alienation in Kashmir.

In Lok Sabha, A M Ariff said I am not surprised by the repeal of Article 370 of the Constitution which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmir is the product of complex historical agreements and India has ensured its special status even to the international community. It is universally acknowledged that the unity of India lies in its diversity. This is the biggest attack on national unity and the concept of India as a Union of States. The country is passing through an undeclared emergency. Just look at the Bills that have been passed in this session of Parliament. It is a well-planned move to silence any minor dissent of the citizens. Brute majority of the ruling party should not be a licence for you to do anything and everything you want.

In Lok Sabha, P R Natarajan spoke on the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The proposed amendments provide for a time-bound resolution process. 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. Unless and until these issues are addressed, the exercise that we are doing is going to be in vain.

On the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Natarajan said many supporters of death penalty for sexual assault against minor girls argue that it will act as a deterrent. The experience in India and across the world, however, is that this is not the case. Even after the Act was passed, the conviction rate remains only 20.6 per cent and there is a high pendency of 89 per cent of these cases across the country. On behalf of my party, I oppose the capital punishment in principle. What is more important is that the speedy delivery of justice and every possible help must be provided to the victims.

In Rajya Sabha, Ragesh opposed the National Medical Commission Bill. The Medical Council was a corrupt body. Using that corruption as an opportunity, the government is trying to centralise the medical education system in the country. The government is snatching away the power of universities to conduct examinations. Who is going to determine the fees and admission? Education is now in the Concurrent List and States have all the power to determine the fee and also frame an admission policy. All these powers are being snatched away by the central government.  Corruption erupted mainly because of the private self-financing medical education institutions. They are opening up the same for the corporates, who are making huge profits. Earlier, in Kerala, all the seats were being regulated by the state government. Now, they are regulating only 50 per cent seats. They are putting up another 50 per cent seats on auction. I would like to know the meaning of 'community health providers connected with modern medicine'. Who are these cow urine therapists? I would request the minister to take the concerns expressed by various members seriously and send the Bill to a Select Committee for further legislative scrutiny.

Opposing the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019, Elamaram Kareem said that in the name of combating terrorism, the government is imposing state terrorism on people. This is the new model of corporate federalism. The properties of such identified people can be confiscated, individuals expressing dissent can now be declared as terrorist arbitrarily. The Government is taking a soft approach to certain extremist organizations. Different method of treatment is being meted out on different organizations. After passing this Bill, this government may dare to list individuals as terrorists. The people of this country are afraid. You are afraid of the voice of dissent. You don't want the opposition to speak against you.

In Rajya Sabha, K Somaprasad supported the Repealing and Amending Bill, 2019. Here 58 laws are repealed and two are amended. The usefulness and operation of every law must be reviewed continuously and the outdated laws should be deleted or modified.

Speaking on the Code on Wages Bill in Rajya Sabha, Elamaram Kareem said that, today, the working people of our country are conducting countrywide demonstration and agitation against this Bill as per the call of national trade unions. This Bill totally ignored the unanimous recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour on the identically same piece of Bill which submitted its report before Parliament in second half of 2018. The Bill has most selectively incorporated some of the provisions from the four wage-related laws while diluting/removing others focusing on the discretionary advantage of the employers' class and their subservient government, thereby betraying workers' interest and trampling labour rights. The Bill ignored most undemocratically the unanimous recommendation and its reiteration of successive Indian Labour Conferences and the related Supreme Court judgment in 1992 on concrete formula of fixation of minimum wage at the benchmark level to ensure human survival of workers. The government refused to incorporate the same in the Bill, despite recommendations of the Standing Committee to act in tandem with such unanimous recommendation of ILCs. It’s a mockery of the government’s slogan of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”. In reality, it is "Corporate Ka Saath, Sabka Vinash".

On the Dam Safety Bill, Natarajan said this legislation is aimed at taking away the rights of the state governments. The Union Government is trying to bring the safety of all dams under its control without consultation with the state concerned. This Bill is aimed at helping the government to fulfil its hidden agenda. The Union Government wants to treat a State as a municipality. On the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, Natarajan said it is nothing but another effort of wholesale selling of aviation sector to the corporates. The present Bill is going to increase the threshold of annual passenger traffic for major airports to over 35 lakhs. All other airports in India are going to be in the private hands. The government needs to take a leaf out of global experience, where most airports are in public hands. Then in India, why is the rush for privatization of airports? 

Speaking on the Consumer Protection Bill, Ragesh said in Rajya Sabha that in the past few weeks, we have been witnessing unprecedented attack on our Constitution, killing of democracy, sabotaging of the federal principle and centralisation of powers. The present Bill is another example of assault on federalism that the government is doing. Through various provisions of this Bill, the powers of the States are being snatched away. The Bill seeks to set up the Central Consumer Protection Authority but States are not being represented in them. The Bill also seeks to set up Consumer Dispute Redressal Commissions at various levels. The central government is directly appointing the heads of all these commissions. There is no selection procedure, there is no consultation. The central government is going to make rules and the States have no role in this. The States have to pay salaries but the Central Government is making the procedure for selection.

On the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2019, Somaprasad said he supports this bill with certain reservations. My apprehension is that because the Bill is somewhat vague, there is every possibility of its misuse, especially by the bureaucrats. I think the employees transferred from one place to other also come under the purview and the family of the employee, who died when he was in service, also comes under the purview. Actually, the transferred employees need some time to find a suitable place for residence at the place where they are transferred. The government is not providing residence at every place where the offices are situated. How can an employee find residential accommodation within three days in a new place where he has no previous connections? The proposed new Section 3B is to apply summary eviction procedure which means a 'three days' show-cause notice and eviction on the fourth day! What a hasty step! It is very cruel. So, in order to shift a family from one place to another, two-three months’ time is not such a big delay. The government should consider these aspects.

Supporting the National Institute of Design (Amendment) Bill, Somaprasad said the Bill proposes to declare four institutions as institutes of national importance and to confer power on them to grant degree, diploma and other academic distinctions. We should take all possible steps to raise the design education to a global standard of excellence. In Kerala also, there is a design institute, the Kerala State Institute of Design. For further development and expansion of the institute, more financial and technological assistance is needed. There are ample chances for the development of design sector in Kerala. I request the government to give necessary help to upgrade the standard of Kerala State Institute of Design as an institute of national importance. (END)