The second leg of the Budget session began on March 2 and would continue till April 3. While the opposition parties would try to target the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government over the state of the economy and Farm issues; the ruling side has decided to place facts and figures before both Houses. The Government has prepared a list of about 25 bills including those on labour reforms and surrogacy regulation for passage. The Finance Bill will also be passed during the session. Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan informed the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) that all International passengers henceforth would be screened at the airports for corona virus.
In the current session, the report of the Standing Committee on Railways would be presented by Radha Mohan Singh and Sunil Kumar Mondal regarding the “Demands for Grants (2020-21) of the Ministry of Railways”. The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, the Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, the National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill and The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill will also be taken up for consideration. The list of pending bills includes the Personal Data Protection Bill 2019 that envisages a Data Protection Authority to overlook the scope of usage of personal data.
The Direct Tax ‘Vivad se Vishwas’ Bill to set up a resolution mechanism for Direct tax disputes was passed. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman introduced The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2020 in the Lok Sabha (Lower House) to provide more powers to the Reserve Bank OF India (RBI) for regulating cooperative Banks. The Bill seeks to strengthen cooperative Banks by increasing professionalism, enabling access to capital, improving governance and ensuring sound banking through the RBI .On March 4, Union Finance Minister got Direct Tax Bill passed without any debate. Under the proposed scheme the taxpayers willing to settle disputes will be allowed a complete waiver of interest and penalty if they pay the entire amount of tax in dispute by March 31 this year, and pay a 10- per cent additional disputed tax.
The Industrial Relations Code Bill that redefines the role of Trade Unions is also part of the list. Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri will move The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 to amend the Aircraft Act, 1934.The Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 would be introduced by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi to amend the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and to amend the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015. He would also lay on the table an explanatory Statement showing the reasons for immediate Legislation by promulgation of the Mineral Laws.
The Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan introduced the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the Lower House. The Bill proposes that the opinion of one doctor should be enough for an abortion up to 20 weeks of gestation and two doctors for termination between 20 to 24 weeks.
On Thursday, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Health and Family Welfare informed the Upper House that that the Government is taking all necessary measures to prevent spread of the COVID-19 in India. Regular surveillance has been initiated across the country for all cases having travel history from all major COVID-19 affected countries and for people having contact with such persons and having fever, cough or breathlessness. Sufficient isolation beds have been made available in the tertiary facilities across the country to manage any outbreak. Government of India is in regular touch with WHO headquarters, regional office and country office to get updates on evolving scenario. The Minister said that our focus is on adherence to core capacities for disease preparedness and response which include surveillance, laboratory diagnosis, hospital preparedness, and logistics management, capacity building of health care staff and risk communication to the community. The scale and extent of our interventions have increased in alignment with the evolving situation of COVID-19 across the world.
Script: Yogesh Sood, Journalist