(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 04, 2011
THE WEEK IN PARLIAMENT
From CPI(M) Parliamentary Office
ON August 17, the country witnessed how, for the first time in history, the Rajya Sabha converted into a court and conducted the impeachment proceedings against Justice Soumitra Sen, a judge of Calcutta High Court. The motion, moved by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yehcury, was based on two grounds of misconduct. First he misappropriated large sums of money, which he received in his capacity as receiver appointed by Calcutta High Court, Secondly, he misrepresented facts with regard to this money before the High Court. The motion also urged the house do consider the report of the inquiry committee in regard to investigation of alleged misbehaviour against Justice Sen, which was laid in the house on November 10, 2010. In his presentation, Yechury clarified that the move was not against the judiciary but against a judge for his misbehaviour. Excerpted and edited text of Yechury’s speech has already been published in these columns.
After Justice Sen presented his defence, leader of opposition made his presentation on his impeachment.
On August 18, the Rajya Sabha approved the impeachment motion against Justice Soumitra Sen, with 189 members voting in favour of the motion and 17 against it. The Lok Sabha will take it up on September 5 and 6.
ON ANNA HAZARE
Brinda Karat took part in the discussion
regarding the reply given by the prime minister on the situation
arising out of
Shri Anna Hazare’s agitation. She said there was in the streets of
In Lok Sabha on the same issue, Basudeb Acharia, CPI(M), said the incident on August 16 reminded us of emergency days. In a democratic country people have the right to protest, agitate and launch movements. Also, it avoided a consultation with the political parties before it held a discussion with Hazare.
The prime minister’s statement, in effect, said that a bill had been introduced in parliament, was referred to the standing committee and so the people had no right to protest and agitate. Acharia said the government gets intolerant whenever there is an agitation against corruption. If a bill is introduced in parliament, do the people not have the right to protest? This has happened a number of times. Acharia here recalled that there was protest all over the country when the TADA bill was introduced. Again, there was protest all over the country when the Prevention of Terrorism Bill was introduced in the house. The government cannot take away the right granted by the constitution protest, to speak against a decision of the government. Why was, in this particular case, the government so intolerant?
The member also pointed out that the Lokpal bill introduced in parliament and referred to the standing committee is quite weak and ineffective. For the last two years, the house has been discussing as to how corruption is proliferating in high places. He said the support of the people for Anna Hazare was not for an individual; people were fed up with protesting against the rampant corruption in high places. Acharia demanded another bill for instituting an effective Lokpal which would also cover the office of the prime minister. He also demanded that the government must desist from trampling upon the democratic right of the people.
On August 18, Brinda Karat made her farewell speech in Rajya Sabha, saying she was happy to be a part of the house when the historic women’s reservation bill was passed. She expressed the hope that there would be no further delay in bringing the bill to Lok Sabha so that it could be enacted as a law.
In the same house, Mohammed Amin too made his farewell speech on the same day. He said there are two crucial issues facing the country today: one is price rise and unemployment and the other is corruption. Till the country follows the capitalist path, the fate of the people would remain lamentable.
SPATE OF SCAMS
After his re-election to the Upper House, Sitaram Yechury made his maiden speech, expressed his views on the growing incidence of corruption in the country. It is true that corruption can’t be done away with by a single law or single step, but something needs to be done about it. In that respect, the law-makers have a very important role to play. The situation outside on the road is not very healthy for democracy. The people are agitated. The house must recognise that the mood outside reflects the people’s disgust, anger and protest against a series of scams in the recent past. This issue has to be addressed. Here, Yechury described crony capitalism as theft of public property through various mechanisms.
Referring to a number of scams and their relationship with the LPG policies, Yechury said we have to seriously consider a change in the definition of corruption in the Prevention of Corruption Act. The Lokpal Bill has to make effective. The Jan Lokpal Bill contains certain provisions which are ultra virus of articles 105 and 311. But you cannot get passed a law that is ultra virus. We must together work out a new bill which takes care of all these aspects. A National Judicial Commission or Accountability Bill is required for alleged corruption in the judiciary. Electoral reforms are very important in order to reduce the hold of money power in elections. Yechury requested the house to dispassionately consider a ban on corporate funding of political parties. In his speech, he also took up the issue of state funding of elections, black money and money laundering through speculation, among other issues
On August 27, a special session was called on the issue of setting up a Lokpal. In Rajya Sabha, the discussion started after Pranab Mukerjee made a statement there. Here, Yechury described Shri Anna Hazare’s hunger strike as a very serious issue and demanded its early resolution. He also referred to the past instances when attempts to set up a Lokpal and Lokayuktas were made, but did not yield any positive result because of one reason or another. Saying that the Left has been consistently raising this demand, he said whenever these issues came up, the parliament did not intervene. Now the common feeling is that the parliament is not serious. He also referred to nine points regarding a Lokpal, adding that the prime minister has to be brought under its purview with adequate safeguards. As for the Citizens Charter, the Right to Service Act has been passed by five states already. A separate law regarding Citizens Charter and redressal of grievances can be made under the provisions of the Lokpal. Lower bureaucracy, at all levels, must be under the Lokpal. The existing vigilance machinery can be brought under the Lokpal’s supervision. We have to convey an assurance to Shri Anna Hazare that all his three points will be incorporated in Lokpal Bill within the framework of the constitution.
In Lok Sabha, Basudeb Acharia said it was for the first time during the last 42 years when the first Lokpal Bill was introduced in the house. Referring to the loot of the people’s wealth by corporate houses in league with the political and administrative bureaucracy, he demanded expansion of the definition of corruption to tackle the menace more effectively. Punitive action must be taken against corporate houses indulging in corrupt practices involving public servants. There must be an effective Lokpal at the centre and effective Lokayuktas in the States, besides a separate law covering the Citizens Charter.
In the same house, P Karunakaran said the basic issue in the struggle is that whether the government has the required political will to take action against the corrupt.
From the CPI(M) side, A Sampath and M B Rajesh too spoke on the issue.
In Rajya Sabha, on the issue of relief and
resettlement of Tamils in
In Lok Sabha, P R Natarajan spoke on the
same issue, saying the Sri Lankan government has not kept its word of
devolution of powers to the Tamils and carving out a Tamil homeland by
the northern and eastern provinces. The financial assistance extended
government is not reaching the Sri Lankan Tamils. He
demanded that displaced persons must be
allowed to go back to their habitations, emergency must be withdrawn
Supporting the Juvenile Justice (Care and
Protection of Children) Amendment Bill 2010 in Rajya Sabha, Jharna Das
said there should be in the juvenile homes a court with a retired
the courts which are there for adults deal with the juvenile cases
should be a counsellor for these children. We see in
Speaking on the Indian Medical Council
(Amendment) Bill 2011 in Lok Sabha, Pulin Bihari Baske said the way the
Council of India was dissolved was not a democratic process. The
should have taken the parliament into confidence before dissolving an
autonomous body formed under an act of parliament. It is well-known
was rampant corruption in the then Medical Council of
Welcoming the National Institute of Technology (Amendment) Bill 2010, P K Biju made the point that the shortage of faculty is a prime concern of our country. Our central universities, IITs and IIMs are facing an acute shortage of faculty. Further, a majority of our existing IISER and new IITs are working in rented buildings. This situation must change; otherwise it will greatly affect our younger generations. Secondly, though our IITs and IIMs have been there for more than 50 years, even now we are not ready to review their performance in the field of research, technological development and progress of the student community. Thirdly, many reserved posts of teaching staff in these institutions are lying vacant; the number of admissions in the reserved categories too has come down in the last few years. There is urgent need to look into this matter. The minister has stated that the government would like to set up more universities in the country, but our spending on education, particularly on higher education, is very meagre. It is only 0.7 percent of our GDP. Not only this; only around 30 to 40 per cent of this money is utilised. The government is going to permit some foreign universities also. But there is the fear that these foreign players will take away the best of faculty in our universities, which would badly affect the growth of our higher education.
Opposing the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks Laws) Amendment Bill 2011 in Rajya Sabha, Tapan Sen said the bill was brought to transfer the ownership and control to the government from the RBI because the RBI cannot list the banks in stock market but the government can. The workforce in the country’s banking system is opposed to this kind of ‘reform’ in which the whole banking system is getting decentralised. The need of the hour is to go further into the rural areas to increase the bankable population which is declining day by day. The ownership and regulatory authority can go hand in hand. Sen accused the government of bypassing the RBI as it wants to assume powers to effect privatisation and deregulation.
Speaking on the National Council for Teacher Education (Amendment) Bill 2010 in the same house, T N Seema asked for adequate consultations with the state governments on education that is in the Concurrent List. Imposing regulations on states without taking into account the situation prevailing there is against the spirit of federalism. The member also referred to the acute shortage of teachers in the country, lack of reasonable salaries and proper welfare measures for teachers, irregularities in the field of teacher education and the need of a transparent recruitment mechanism.
Supporting the Transplantation of Human Organs (Amendment) Bill 2011, K N Balagopal pointed out that most of the cases of human organs transplantation are from Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi. He welcomed the provision about adding tissues, inclusion of grand father, grand mother, grand son and grand daughter, and also the provision to establish a National Human Organs and Tissues Removal and Storage Network, adding that such organ banks must be there in a radius of 100 km. People should be properly educated on this issue. Commercialisation in health sector has to be curbed. Cumbersome procedure should be avoided to help people get an organ in case of need and stringent measures must be adopted against the misuse of provisions.
Speaking on the Customs (Amendment and Validation) Bill in Lok Sabha, P R Natarajan said it is officers who bring the loopholes in laws and rules to the notice of the business people. This has to be curbed. A powerful monitoring system is needed for this purpose. Severe action must be taken against the officers who indulge in corruption. All vacancies in the Custom Department and Central Excise Department must be filled up immediately.
Supporting the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Design and Manufacturing, Kancheepuram Bill 2011, Natarajan asked for continuation of the reservation policy and increases in the employment generation capacity.
Dr T N Seema referred to the long pending complaint of sexual harassment of women workers in Doordarshan Kendra, Thiruvananthapuram.
Moinul Hassan drew attention to the reported letter from the HRD minister to Aligarh Muslim University, He said the AMU vice chancellor is restrained from making any appointments and promotions, as also from making any policy decision pertaining to the executive and academic functioning of the university.
On August 23, the Left parties and other secular opposition parties staged a dharna in front of Mahatma Gandhi’s statue inside the Parliament House, demanding a strong and effective Lokpal Bill. Holding placards, leaders like Sitaram Yechury of the CPI(M), H D Devegowda (former prime minister), Ajit Singh (RLD), Nama Nageshwar Rao (TDP) and MPs from the respective parties raised slogans in support of their demand.
On August 25, CPI(M) MPs raised the issue of attacks on democratic rights in West Bengal and submitted a memorandum. Subsequently, at the CPI(M) Parliamentary Office, comrades working there handed over an amount of Rs 12,220 to CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose for the West Bengal Relief Fund.