People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 52

December 30, 2012




CPI(M) Parliamentary Office


THIS concluding week of the winter session of parliament was rocked by an incident that has shocked the whole nation. This was the incident of brutal gang rape of a young paramedical student in a moving bus, which has put a big question mark on the safety of women in India and more so in the national capital. Members of both the houses expressed serious concern over the frequent incidents of rape and assault on women in Delhi where law and order is directly controlled by the union home ministry. 


Speaking on this issue in Rajya Sabha, Prasanta Chatterjee dubbed it as a barbarous attack and pointed out that the vehicle the culprits had used had crossed a few police pickets when such a heinous act was being perpetrated. The footages shown in a media coverage made it clear that there were there was no policemen in police stations during night hours. The member asked how the home minister would explain this situation, and wanted to know what steps were being taken to save the girl who is struggling for life in a hospital.


In the same house, T N Seema said more shocking than the gang rape was the irresponsible attitude of authorities. No woman is safe in the national capital today. The member wanted the home minister to take some steps to ensure the safety of women, and put forward some concrete suggestions in this regard. She said all the DTC and private buses must be fitted with surveillance cameras; civil defence volunteers must be deployed along with the police force; people's committees including representatives of women’s organisations must be attached with every police station to take up crimes against women. Speedy justice for victims and strict punishment for criminals must be ensured. Fast track courts must be set up in all districts




Speaking in Lok Sabha on the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill 2011 that sought to make sweeping amendments to the Banking Regulation Act 1949 and the Banking Companies (Acquisition & Transfer of Undertakings) Acts 1970 and 1980, Khagen Das said it was dangerous for the public sector banking system as also for its indigenous character. The bill’s statement of objects and reasons of said private corporate houses would be free to set up and run private banks. But what is the track record of private banks? When the global financial crisis swept through several parts of the world in 2008, several private banks crashed like houses of cards. In India, however, the banking system survived precisely because of its public character.


And yet the policymakers of our country are hell bent upon denationalising the banking sector, to the detriment of our national interests. Section 12(2) of the Banking Regulation Act 1949 put an upper limit of 10 per cent on the voting rights of any shareholder of a private bank. But this bill sought to increase it to 26 per cent. Thus, with 74 per cent FDI allowed in private sector banks, any two foreign entities holding 26 per cent of the shares each would be at liberty to jointly take over at will the management of any private bank. Section 3, Subsection 2E of the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertaking) Acts 1970 and 1980 capped the voting right of a private shareholder of a nationalised bank at one per cent. But the latest bill sought to increase it to 10 per cent, and so any five or more corporates may form a cartel and take over a nationalised bank.


Das also said he was in favour of the RBI’s strong and effective control over the banking sector. But Section 5 of the bill sought to confer sweeping and unguided powers on the RBI about permitting or debarring anyone in regard to acquiring shares in a banking company; the power must be tampered with suitable inbuilt guidelines. According to Section 2A, a merger of banks would be exempted from Competition Act 2002. This means that no permission would be required from the Competition Commission for a merger of banks. It will be harmful for our country as big banks do not care for the poor, common people.


Thus, concluding that the amendments proposed in the bill would be highly detrimental to the interest of our banking and financial sector and to our national economy, Khagen Das demanded that the bill must be withdrawn.


In the upper house, Tapan Sen spoke on the Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill 2011 and the Enforcement of Security Interest and Recovery of Debts Laws (Amendment) Bill 2011. Pointing out that lakhs of bank employees and other workers were protesting against this bill, he said we remained comparatively insulated from the global financial meltdown, and our country's financial sector played a very important role in this regard. He said we oppose this bill as it seeks to weaken the nationalised character of the banking system. As the capital of any bank, whether public or private, is people's saving, it must be channelised for national priorities and not for a businessman's profit-mongering. If there is opposition to the idea of promoting private sector banking, it is because private banks do not care for our national priorities. For example, we can't expect easy credit for agriculture from a private bank.


Secondly, any increase in the voting right of foreign shareholders or in private Indian shareholders private banks would do no good to the banking sector. Such provisions must be dropped and FDI not promoted in banking or financial sector. They are not going to bring a single paisa as capital from outside. On the other bill, Sen sought a clarification: Was the government, through an asset reconstruction process, going to sacrifice a part of the money? How was it going to help the medium and small enterprises? One of the major problems facing these enterprises is that most of them are exploited by big industries. This adds to their indebtedness. A major cause of their failure is that they do not get timely payments for the produce they supply to big industries.


On the last day of the winter session, this bill got the Rajya Sabha’s approval.




Speaking on the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment (UAPA) Bill 2012 in Rajya Sabha, P Rajeeve said any government has a right to take legislative and other initiatives to curb terrorism, but they must be in accordance with the constitutional provisions and the principles of human rights.


However, the proposed amendments would make the law even more draconian and amendable to human rights violations. There have been several complaints against the misuse of UAPA in different parts of the country. Muslim youth are the most vulnerable targets today. The draconian provisions of the UAPA are being used to deny the normal process of justice. There is a growing feeling of fear and apprehension on the one hand and anger on the other that innocents are being implicated. In the latest bill the government has copied many provisions of the immensely discredited TADA and POTA.


The latest bill has no safeguards either. Instead of diluting the draconian provisions and ensuring the human rights safeguards, the minister had come up with an even more undemocratic amendment bill. A ‘person’ was defined too broadly, and that would allow government agencies to create ‘persons’ beyond what are recognised by law. It would make space for misuse or misinterpretation of law. Clause 3 intended to extend the ban on an organisation from the earlier specified two years to five years. The member demanded that we must stick to two years as the maximum.


The house later passed the bill by voice vote, while the Left, the Janata Dal (United), RJD, Lok Jan Shakti and Biju Janata Dal staged a walkout.




On the last day, though the bill to provide reservation for the SCs and STs in government job promotions was taken up in Lok Sabha, it was followed by repeated disruptions and adjournments. These marred the proceedings, with BJP and SP members blocking a discussion on the bill. The house was later in the day adjourned sine die.


While speaking on the Companies Bill 2011 in Lok Sabha, Saidul Haque said the provision regarding corporate social responsibility must be made mandatory and that companies must spend at least two per cent of their profits in this connection. If an auditor commits any wrong for five years, he should be blacklisted. No person having relations with a chit fund must be allowed to become an MLA or MP. The Company Law must be so strict that no chit fund companies are able to exist. The definition of a listed company must be clear-cut; that of a ‘promoter’ reviewed. Men of high offices must not be made directors even after retirement. The SEBI Act must not be diluted; rather it must be made stricter to restrict frauds.


Speaking on the Constitution (One Hundred and Eighteenth Amendment) Bill 2012 in Rajya Sabha, Prasanta Chatterjee dwelt on the need for development of the backward regions and provision of funds required. He said the CPI(M) supported in the standing committee the need of a development board.


M B Rajesh extended support to the same bill in the other house.


On the Appropriation (No 4) Bill 2012 in Rajya Sabha, Tapan Sen expressed concern over the tax evasion cases. Though the UPA-2 government claimed to have made moves to curb the menace, the public exchequer is still being looted in many ways. The government says containing fiscal deficit is the primary concern as growth cannot be ensured otherwise, but then seeks to justify the sell-out of public sector companies or hike in the diesel price on this plea. Also, the same government has sacrificed more than Rs 40,000 crore on account of retrospective taxation on foreign acquisitions alone. While talking of fiscal deficit, they deplete the public exchequer by doling out huge concessions to hardly one per cent of the population. No move to contain the prices, to universalise the public distribution system or to stop speculation in commodity market which is the main cause of price-rise today! If a government promotes speculation and future trading, investments would also be for speculation, not for commodity production or for employing people. There is need for a total change of economic policy approach, with more concern for the benefit of 99 per cent of the population. However, on the contrary, the government is allowing FDI in multi-brand retail, which will straightaway kill about four crore jobs. Sen expressed opposition to cuts in subsidies meant for the people, privatisation of public sector companies, and deregulation of financial sector through the so-called banking and insurance sector reforms.


Jharna Das Baidya raised the issue of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation of a theatre artiste and playwright from Karnataka by traffic police and a crowd of men on December 5. An FIR was lodged but no action was taken in this regard.


On December 20, both the houses were adjourned sine die.