“Rajnaitik garmi badi tezi se badh rahi hai (political temperatures are soaring)” — That’s how Prime Minister Narenndra Modi kicked off his speech right before the start of the Winter Session of Parliament 2023 on Monday. Clearly, he was referring to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) win in three of the five assembly polls.
The government has 21 Bills on its agenda for the Winter Session, including the bills to replace the IPC, the Indian Evidence Act and the CrPC. Of those 21 bills, two bills were passed on Monday – one each in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha. Here’s all you need to know about the first day of the Parliament session.
Parliament Winter Session 2023: Top 5 developments
1. PM Modi said that the Winter Session of Parliament is a “golden opportunity for opposition parties to do something constructive” and asked them not to vent anger at their defeat in assembly polls inside the House. “Indulge in debate…contribute in discussions…I also speak politically; it is beneficial for you too if you give a message of positivity to the country. It is not right for democracy if your image becomes one of hatred and negativity,” PM Modi said.
2. The Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday. This is the first bill passed by the Lower House of Parliament in the Winter session. The Bill was already cleared by the Rajya Sabha on August 3, in the Monsoon session.
What the new Bill says: The Bill aims at regulating the legal profession by a single Act. It provides that every high court and district judge can frame and publish lists of “touts” (a broker or those who procure clients for legal practitioners in return for any payment). Union Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal said there should be no role of such persons in the country’s courts.
Why was it opposed in Lok Sabha: Some members said the punishment prescribed in the Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023, against touts is very less and it should be enhanced. Meanwhile, DMK member A Raja was quoted by PTI as saying that the government is misusing Parliament by encroaching on the powers of states by bringing amendments that deal with state subjects. “It is unfortunate that the government has not come up with the ‘objects and reasons’ of the Bill,” he said.
3. The Rajya Sabha passed a Bill to repeal the Indian Post Office Act, of 1898 and to consolidate and amend the law relating to the post offices in India. “The government has a right to keep track of illegal substances like narcotics being transported through postal networks and this is in the public interest,” Minister of State for Communications Devusinh Chauhan said.
What the new Bill says: The enactment of a new law in place of the Indian Post Office Act, 1898 is with a view to govern the functioning of the post offices in the country. It also calls for a simple legislative framework to facilitate the evolution of the post offices into a network for the delivery of citizen-centric services.
The Bill states that the central government may, by notification, empower any officer to intercept, open or detain “any item in the interest of the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, emergency, or public safety or upon the occurrence of any contravention of any of the provisions of any law for the time being in force”.
The bill provides India Post will not incur any liability with regards to its services, except any liability prescribed through rules. It further seeks to empower the director general of postal services to frame regulations with respect of activities necessary to provide those services and fix the charges for such services.
Why Opposition opposed the Bill: Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi had objected to the Bill, raising surveillance concerns “under the garb of reforms”. According to news agency PTI, the MP said that clauses 9 and 10 of the Post Office Bill can lead to surveillance and authorities responsible will not be held liable once this Bill is passed. Meanwhile, CPI’s P Sandosh Kumar swas quoted as saying, “This will turn our post offices into Pegasus offices.” He was alluding to the allegations levelled by the Opposition about the use of Israeli spyware.
4. Law Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal told the Lok Sabha on Monday that the government is open to a policy on the transfer of high court judges. He said this while replying to a debate on the Advocates (Amendment) Bill, which was cleared by the Lok Sabha on Monday. The Bill was already cleared by the Rajya Sabha.
5. The Rajya Sabha decided to discontinue the suspension of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Raghav Chadha, holding him “guilty of breach of privilege” and noting that the suspension suffered by him so far be taken as sufficient punishment.
6. The report of the Ethics Committee on the expulsion of Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra from the Lok Sabha was listed for presentation in the Lok Sabha on Monday. However, the agenda item was not taken up by the presiding officer. Some Opposition members also demanded a discussion in the Lok Sabha on the Ethics Committee’s report before any decision on the matter. According to PTI sources, the report is expected to be tabled in the House on Tuesday.
Amid the ongoing controversy on the alleged “cash-for-query” case, Mahua Moitra on Monday denied commenting on the Ethics Committee report saying “she’ll only speak when they table the report before the Parliament.”
7. Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said the safety and security of air passengers was the top priority of his government. Scindia was replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour on Monday. He said, “Safety and security is the priority of our ministry. For security, our institute BCAS (Bureau of Civil Aviation Security) keeps a keen watch on all airports and for safety DGCA issues CAR (Civil Aviation Rule) so that the safety of the passengers is kept in mind. Whenever any airline or airport is found guilty, a penalty is imposed on them by the ministry.”
8. The Rajya Sabha mourned the deaths of former chief election commissioner MS Gill, MS Swaminathan — the father of the green revolution — and three other ex-MPs on the opening day of the Winter session of Parliament.
9. Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar reconstituted the panel of vice-chairpersons comprising eight members with the presence of 50 per cent women parliamentarians. The eight-member panel will now have four women members- Congress MP Phulo Devi Netam, and Bharatiya Janata Party’s MPs Phangnon Konyak, Darshana Singh and Sonal Mansingh.
10. With the beginning of the winter session of Parliament, several opposition parties met in Delhi on Monday to forge a strategy to corner the Narendra Modi-led central government on issues of public interest. “As the Winter Session of the Parliament begins today, the leaders of like-minded political parties deliberated upon the various pressing issues facing the nation,” Kharge said in a post on X. “As a responsible opposition, will stay the course and continue to make the Modi Government accountable,” Kharge, also the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said.
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Updated: 04 Dec 2023, 08:58 PM IST