Press Trust of india

Oppn, Govt lock horns in RS over referring RTI bill to a select committee

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New Delhi, Jul 25 : Government and the Congress-led Opposition in Rajya Sabha entered into a tug of war over sending RTI (Amendment) Bill to a Select Committee of the House, forcing four adjournments.

As soon as the House resumed in the afternoon, Deputy Chairman Harivansh asked the Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh to move the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill.

After moving it for consideration, the minister urged the Chair to hold discussion on the bill and then decide on the motions for its passage as well as the issue of sending the draft law to a select committee.

As many as five members had given notice for amendment seeking to send the bill to a select Committee.

The government stuck to its point that the motions for sending the bill to select committee and passage of the draft law would be taken up after the discussions.

The House witnessed four brief adjournments amid the din as Congress, DMK, CPI, CPM, TMC and AAP members remained in the Well and raised slogans against the government.

The opposition members also stuck to their demand to move the motion for sending the bill to select committee before initiating discussion on that.

Before the stalemate, TMC leader Derek O'Brien told the Chair that the House took up two short duration discussions and three calling attention during this session.

He said that as per convention, the House should take up at least one short duration discussion in a week and therefore sufficient time is not being given to discussing important issues.

He also said that a short duration discussion on ministry of MSME was listed for discussion which later vanished.

On this, Leader of the opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the House is still short of two short duration discussion during this session.

He also said, "We have been passing legislation. There has to be discussion on those."

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi said, "I assure that next week, we are ready to clear the backlog (of short duration discussion)."

On the SS Roy of TMC said that since the House has not been formally extended till next week, the part of the minister's statement talking about extension of the House should be expunged.

Prakash Javadekar said, "Conventions are relevant when the House runs smoothly. The other House passed bills. As many as 22 bills lapsed. The House could not pass it. There is context to it."

Thereafter Congress leader Anand Sharma raised the issue of scrutiny of bills before passage in the House.

Sharma said, "We are not under obligation to blindly endorse the bill which come from Lok Sabha. We are clear on it that if other House has not referred the bill to standing committee then it is our duty to send it to a committee. It cannot be done in hurry."

RJD leader Manoj Jha objected to Javadekar's remark on peformance of other House.

BJP leader Bhupender Yadava said that the issue of sending the bill to select committee would come when it would come up for discussion.

The Opposition members got agitated when the Deputy Chairman called five members for moving the motion for referring the bill to select committee and then asked to initiate debate on the draft law.

Congress leader P Chidambaram said that "you are confused as the members have not moved an amendment to the bill rather they have moved a motion to send the bill to a select committee".

He asked how can there be discussion on the bill without disposing off a motion as that motion has already been adopted.

While moving his motion for sending the bill to select committee, Congress member M V Rajeev said that this is an attempt to weaken the RTI law.

Binoy Viswam of CPI, E Kareem CPI and K K Ragesh of CPM also moved the motion to send the bill to a select committee.

The Deputy Chairman called Jairam Ramesh as first speaker on the bill. But when he could speek amid the din, Harivansh called V P Saharsabuddhe for discussion.

The Congress and other Opposition members kept on raising slogans in the well and Deputy Chairman adjourned the House for 15 minutes till 2:46 PM.

The House again adjourned for 10 minutes and as the stalemate continued it led to another brief adjournment. After this the House adjourned for another 15 minutes.

As the protests continued and some members threw papers in the Well of the House, Deputy Chairman Harivansh said it amounted to indiscipline and observed what impression was being set especially as school children were sitting in the Visitor's gallery to witness the proceedings.

The Deputy Chairman made repeated appeals to protesting members to return to their seats and said they should participate in the discussion on the Bill and vote on the Bill to be sent to the Select Committee.

Without naming the Congress, BJP leader Shiv Pratap Shukla recalled the days of Emergency observing that people were jailed and said the government was not trying to dilute the Right to Information (RTI) Act and wants to ensure its proper implementation.

Shukla said a few days ago some people returned their titles and, pointing towards the protesting members in the Well, mentioned they earlier stood in support of such people who were supporters of naxalites and terrorists.

He said some people now want to present a view that Prime Minister must stop mob lynching. He said this government framed a law to curb mob lynching.

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