Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Week In Parliament

The Monsoon Session of Parliament ended on Wednesday after adopting several important bills. The Lok Sabha (House of People) and the Rajya Sabha (House of States) were adjourned sine die eight days before its schedule end due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Session with ten sittings had begun on 14th of this month and was scheduled to end on first of October. In his concluding remarks, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said 25 bills were passed and six new bills were introduced in the House amid protest by opposition parties on several issues.

Parliament has passed the three labour code Bills for the welfare and protection of workers. The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code 2020, seeks to amend the laws regulating the occupational safety, health and working conditions of the persons employed in any establishment. The Industrial Relations Code 2020, aims at amending the laws relating to Trade Unions, conditions of employment in industrial establishment or undertaking, investigation and settlement of industrial disputes. The third Bill, The Code on Social Security, 2020 seeks to amend the laws relating to social security of the employees in the country.

Replying to a discussion, Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar described the bills as historic saying they will have far-reaching effects on the interests of the workers by creating a time bound grievance resolution mechanism. He said, several provisions have been included in the Bills to provide a safe environment to the workers and robust social security mechanism.

Intervening in the discussion, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Bills will ensure justice for the workers. He said, several provisions have been made in the Bills including guaranteed minimum and timely wages, free health check-up facility and allowances for migrant workers to visit their homes once a year.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal informed the Rajya Sabha that the Railways have planned hundred per cent electrification of its broad-gauge routes by 2023. In a written reply to a question, the Minister said that around 63 per cent broad gauge lines have already been electrified out of a total of 63 thousand 631 route kilometers. The Lok Sabha passed the Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020 which seeks to provide for regulation, operation and planning of major ports in the country and provide greater autonomy to these ports. Minister of State for Shipping, Mansukh Mandaviya said the bill will provide major thrust in the maritime sector.

The Lok Sabha also passed the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill 2020. It aims to make Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi, English and Urdu as the official languages of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy said the legislation will fulfil the long pending demand of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Parliament has passed the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020. Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman said that the Bill is important as so many cooperative banks have faced serious difficulties in the recent past.

Both the Houses have passed the National Forensic Sciences University Bill, 2020. The Bill aims at establishing a university on the lines of the Gujarat Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar and the Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Sciences, New Delhi.

Parliament has passed the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill 2020. Education Minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank said that technology is playing an important role in the development of the country. Parliament gave its assent to the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The bill amends the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 to include protections for health care service personnel combating epidemic diseases and expands the powers of the Central Government to prevent the spread of such diseases.

The Lok Sabha has passed the Foreign Contribution Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2020 (FCRA). Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai made it clear that the proposed law is not against any religion or any NGO as alleged by some.

Script: V. Mohan Rao, Journalist

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