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Week in Parliament

The Opposition in the Rajya Sabha wanted to speak on the issue but was not allowed by Harivansh saying his obituary reference reflected the feelings of the entire House.

Deepak Razdan | New Delhi |

Parliament disposed of important legislative business in the second week of its Winter Session, but not without frequent adjournments. The Opposition continued its protests over the suspension of 12 of its members in the Rajya Sabha. The Upper House lost much of its time to adjournments on the first two days.

The Government gave statements on the shocking incidents of killing of innocent civilians by the Army in Nagaland in a case of mistaken identity, and later on the tragic helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu in which India’s first Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat, his wife and several Defence personnel died.

Speaking on the Nagaland incident in the Lok Sabha, the lone State member Tokheho Yepthomi (Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party) said Naga political negotiations are on for the last 25 years.

People are anxiously waiting for a solution, and the incident took place. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is enforced in the State, but it does give powers to Armed Forces to indiscriminately kill the public, he said.

Gaurav Gogoi (Congress) from Assam said it was a black day in the history of Nagaland. The people of Nagaland and the North-East want to live in peace, want to address the issue of unemployment, and showcase their beautiful culture. The incident came when the Hornbill Festival was being celebrated, and Christmas was on its way.

The killing of unarmed civilians is highly condemnable when negotiations are on the Naga political issue, he said. Home Minister Amit Shah gave his statement later and the Opposition wanted to speak.

Speaker Om Birla did not allow, saying the members were given a chance to speak earlier. At this, members of all major Opposition parties staged a walk-out. In the Upper House, the reverse happened.

The Opposition was so busy protesting that it did not heed Deputy Chairman Harivansh’s offer to seek clarifications on Shah’s statement, and the House had to be adjourned for the day.

On the Defence helicopter crash in Tamil Nadu, there were obituary references in both Houses. The Opposition in the Rajya Sabha wanted to speak on the issue but was not allowed by Harivansh saying his obituary reference reflected the feelings of the entire House.

Among the Bills, the Lok Sabha passed the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021; the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and the Delhi Special Police Establishment (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The Rajya Sabha passed the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2021 and the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020.

The National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed by both Houses. The Bill on the Judges’ salaries gave the Lower House an opportunity to review the entire judicial system and its shortcomings, including the lack of infrastructure, appointments and transfers of Judges, the pendency of cases and the high cost of justice for the common man.

Shashi Tharoor (Congress) initiated the debate and provoked the Treasury Benches with his comments suggesting the Executive seemed to command a better hearing in the apex court. He told Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju to consider recommendations made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice to revisit the age of retirement of High Court Judges to compensate for the large number of vacancies existing in the High Courts.

In the high courts of Delhi, Allahabad, Kolkata, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Patna, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Telangana, there are shortages of more than one-third of the total strength of judges, he said.

There are a staggering 4.4 crore cases pending in the country, that include over 3.77 crore cases in the subordinate courts, 57 lakh cases in the high courts, and 73,000 cases in the Supreme Court as of September this year.

After a review of the judicial system during the Judges salaries Bill debate, the Lower House reviewed the functioning of the Government while discussing the CVC and the Delhi Special Police Establishment Bills, which extended the tenures of the ED and CBI chiefs from two to a maximum of five years.

Members opposed the introduction of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2021. N K Premachandran (RSP) and Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) said the Government wanted to give a retrospective effect to a criminal penal provision from 1st May 2014. Giving retrospective effect on penal provision is bad in law, and that which is bad in law is no law, they said.