Amidst arguments that the Parliament should disperse early in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the BJP parliamentary party that the ongoing session of Parliament will continue until April 3 as scheduled.
Here are today’s updates:
Lok Sabha | 7.30 p.m.
Lok Sabha is adjourned till 11 a.m., March 20.
Rajya Sabha | 6.10 p.m
Rajya Sabha is adjourned till 11 a.m., March 20.
Lok Sabha | 6.00 p.m.
Lok Sabha passes the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020 by a voice vote.
The House is now discussing matters of public importance. The Speaker extends the session till 7.30 p.m.
Rajya Sabha | 6.00 p.m.
Prasanna Acharya of the BJD refers to cases like the Uphaar cinema, Safar Hashmi murder case, and points to years of delay in passing judgements.
He says the prime reason is the huge number of vacancies in our judicial system. In 2019, the aprroved judicial strength of all the HCs put together was 1079. There is about 40% vacancies in the High Courts, he says, adding that thousands of posts lie vacant in lower courts as well.
Slams collegium system
The collegium system was formulated by the Supreme Court itself and it was not present in the Constitution. Parliament enacted a law dismissing it, but both the SC and the HCs struck it down, and we went back to the collegium system, he says.
India is a democracy, and yet nowhere else in the world do judges appoint judges. “I do not want to cast aspersions on judges or courts, but even the Law Commisison in 2009 recommended that nepotism is prevalent in the collegium system,” says Mr. Acharya.
Lok Sabha | 5.55 p.m.
The House starts voting on the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020.
Rajya Sabha | 5.45 p.m.
Bhupendra Yadav says that justice should not be expensive, and the present government is taking efforts to make legal remedies accessible to all.
Legislative drafting should be done in vernacular languages to make such documents more accessible, he says.
Lok Sabha | 5.30 p.m.
Shripad Yesso Naik, Minister of State for Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy, says with the AYUSH mission, every district in the State will have a hospital for the ayurveda, naturopathy, and other such systems of medicine.
Work has started on 102 such hospitals, and more such proposals are expected, he says.
Rajya Sabha | 5.30 p.m.
Bhupendra Yadav of the BJP moots the idea of ‘one nation one voter list’. There should be a political consensus for this, and such a step would enhance turnouts in election and voter transperancy.
Rajya Sabha | 5.00 p.m.
The House begins discussion on working of the Ministry of Law and Justice. Bhupendra Yadav of the BJP speaks.
Rajya Sabha | 4.30 p.m.
‘FM has called a meeting to discuss market shutdown amid COVID-19 scare’
Nitin Gadkari says in line with the vision of achieving a 5 trillion economy, both rural and urban regions will be balanced, there will be no inflow into urban areas for job search, per capita income will increase, and rural industries will be supported.
Responding to a question about market shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister says that the concern raised is legitimate. “The Finance Minister has called a meeting on March 20 to discuss these issues, and I have formulated some suggestions, but it will not be appropriate to discuss them right now,” says Mr. Gadkari.
The present situation is a big problem for the MSME industry too, he says.
In response to a question from Congress leader Anand Sharma, he says the pandemic has affected the market to some extent.
4 pm | Rajya Sabha
Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Nitin Gadkari speaks. “6 lakh MSME sectors were restructured. All the banks have been asked to work on this. They have been given an agenda. Now all the yojanas made by the govt, have been used by the people. Loans have been provided. I have the data with me. All the banks can now finance and the target we’ve set, will be reached. We cover 75% of the insurance. Banks can only ask for 25% collateral. The Indian govt supports all the yojanas. Even women have been given priority.”
MPs ask the Minister about the pending payments, corpus funds and other policies for the MSMEs.
4 pm | Lok Sabha
Ramesh Chandra Majhi (BJD) says that the composition of the institution in the Ayurveda Bill will help it set it up well in Jamnagar.
Ajay Bhatt (BJP) says that India has been the least affected by Coronavirus. The budget allotted by PM Modi is quite sufficient for medical research.
Anto Antony (INC): “Ayurveda is a necessity, especially since the other medicines use chemicals. So the use of other medicines are like a foreign body in our body. However, I have an issue with this Bill. All the objectives of the Bill can be better practised in Kerala and it is probably used as the only state in India as a mainstream medicine. All areas of life impact one’s health. In short, Ayurveda is a way of getting pampered and it is the mother of all healing. Kerala should be called as a maternity home for healing.”
3 pm | Rajya Sabha
Jairam Ramesh (INC) says Mr. Nitin Gadkari’s appointment as Minister has brought a fresh air of dynamism, which is normally not known for dynamism, to which some members applause. “I believe GST was a major reform, it was badly needed, but in the manner in which it was implemented has adversely affected the MSME sector. You can go to any cluster – Tirupur, Avadi, Aligarh, Howrah and you’ll see the impact of GST and demonetisation. Let us look ahead, what are you going to enable to overcome the shocks of GST and demonetisation? I think it is time we change the definition of MSMEs. I have been arguing that we should define MSME in terms of employment. However, after GST I have changed my mind and GST needs to be refined. I’d like the Minister whether there is any plan to change the MSME plan.”
“Mr. Nitin Gadkari is known to think boldly, and it’d be great if he can give a new objective to KVIC. We’d like to know about the revival and recommendations of UK Sinha committee. MSME sector is fundamental to the economic growth of India.”
Ram Vichar Netam (BJP) says, “In the next five years, there will be a lot of improvement. This country is moving forward. Praise the work done by PM Narendra Modi.”
Vijila Sathyanath (AIADMK): “The small and medium enterprises are under-banked. The major affected is the textile industry. Through our Minister of MSME, I want it to be taken to the FM to enable this textile and clothing industry. They are in a panic situation. The employers are migrants coming from different places. Now the migrant workers want to return to their natives. The industry is likely to face loss. They need financial relief. I appeal to the FM seeking financial help.”
3 pm | Lok Sabha
Poonamben Hematbhai Maadam (BJP) says, “People come to India for Ayurveda treatment. Now medical tourism is shifting towards wellness tourism. Ayurveda is not only for treating diseases. Ayurveda is mainly for living a healthy life. The elevation of the proposed institute to that of a national importance will help develop patterns of teaching, the status will give the mandate to get certificate courses, it will also bring together educational facility in one place.”
V. Kalanidhi (DMK) says, “Thousands of roots are being studied by the doctors and we need to take medicine from nature. We have learnt a lot from nature. One of the oldest surgeons belongs to our country, Sushruta. His very common surgery, rhinoplasty. Whenever someone was punished, the top of the nose used to be cut off, hence this was popular, ages ago. Even cataract was treated then.”
2 pm | Lok Sabha
Matters under rule 377 are discussed by various MPs.
The Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020 is discussed for consideration and passing.
2 pm | Rajya Sabha
Further discussion on working of the Ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises is on.
The growth and importance of the MSME sector is discussed and MPs ask the involvement of the sector in making India the number 1 country. Innovations and job growth in the sector is also stressed about.
1 pm | Parliament
Both houses adjourned till 2 pm.
1 pm | Rajya Sabha
Question Hour in progress.
The following questions were discussed.
Compensation for damage in Jami Milia Islamia University.
Removal of deprivation points in JNU.
Questions on monitoring of social networking services.
MPs ask questions about All India Judicial Services exams.
Minister of Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad addresses the questions.
“Language will not be a barrier in the proposed All-India Judicial Service (AIJS) as the government is thinking of having four zones,” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad says.
The government is making efforts to expedite setting up of AIJS, he appealed to stakeholders including all high courts to give up their traditional and conventional opposition and support the great judicial reform.
Responding to a supplementary query that whether the government plans to conduct AIJS exams in 29 languages, he says, “Exams for AIJS will be conducted like the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) does for IAS, IPS and other services.
Whenever there is talk of AIJS, it is raised how Assam people will go to Tamil Nadu. Are not IAS people getting posted in TN? Are not Kerala people going to Bihar? They will pick up language.
But the government thinking is that there will be four categories in the entire country for AIJS so that people from north, south, east and west can come in those clusters. The language will not be a problem,” he says and urges all stakeholders to support the great initiative of judicial reform and make it a success.
He mentions that stakeholder consultation process is underway even though the government is making efforts to expedite the process despite opposition from many state governments and high courts.
“We are making efforts. It is the commitment of the GoI. Taking the benefit of floor of this house, I would appeal all stakeholders including all HCs that it is a great reform. If we have traditional and conventional opposition, please overcome it and join in this great reform initiative.”
Asserting that the proposed AIJS will provide good talent pool, the minister says, “When we can have IAS, IPS, IFS, why not the AIJS to be conducted by a proper body like UPSC with merit selection process so that India’s judicial service also attract the best talent and proper representation also.”
The government is having stakeholders consultation. Many states and high courts are on board, many are not. But the government’s initiative is on, he adds.
HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank says, “It is premature to say who is responsible for the recent violence in Jamia Millia Islamia in the national capital. The government cannot divulge much information about this incident in the Upper House as the matter is subjudice.”
He is asked if the government will set up an enquiry to investigate role of the Delhi Police and recover damage from them.
“When such incidents happen, there are many facts and evidences. It is premature to say who is responsible. The Home Minister has said the culprit will not be spared,” Mr. Nishank says.
Responding to another query if the government will take videos as evidence to prove Delhi Police’s alleged hand in vandalism, the minister says: “I have already said the matter is subjudice. However, many questions and doubts are raised on videos circulated.”
Asked if the Centre will compensate for damages incurred by the university, the minister says, “All central universities are fully funded by the central government through UGC. If funds are required, the university can reach out to the UGC.”
Jamia Millia Islamia has informed of damage to properties during violence in the campus on December 15, 2019. However, the central library of the University has been opened to students on March 11 after renovation, he says.
Universities are also competent to deal with such incidents, the minister says, adding it is because the central universities are statutory autonomous organisations and all administrative and academic decisions are taken by the universities with the approval of their statutory bodies such as Executive Council and Academic Council.
As per provisions of the Act of the university, the executive council of the university has power for management and administration of revenue and property, he adds.
12.50 pm | Lok Sabha
Request the repatriation of students in Manila: MP Margani Bharat
YSRCP MP Margani Bharat, from Andhra Pradesh, brought to the notice of the House the situation of a group of Indian students stuck in Manila due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MP told the House that the students have been unable to get a positive response from the Ministry on the possible return to India.
“Why can’t we bring them to India and quarantine them, thus providing them with good care. This will be a relief to the students’ parents as well,” he said.
12.30 pm | Lok Sabha
On non-allocation of houses to Kerala under Central govt scheme
Congress MP from Kerala K. Sudhakaran asks the permission of the Speaker to speak in Malayalam, before bringing to the notice of the House the non-allocation of houses to Kerala under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana .
“The Centre has promised to build houses for the poor under the PM’s Awas Yojana. But it pains me to tell you that not even 10 houses have been promised to Kerala under it. The Centre may have issues with the Kerala govt., but we should keep all that aside in service of the people,” he says.
The MP adds that Kerala has faced two floods, in which over 1 lakh houses were destroyed. And yet the people of Kerala are being punished by the Centre, says Mr. Sudhakaran.
Speaker Om Birla interves, says that the State govt. should send the appropriate proposal ,only then can the Centre do anything, he says. “These are issues that the governments should sort out between themselves, and not penalise the citizens,” retorts Mr. Sudhakaran.
12.10 pm | Parliament
Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu asked members of the upper house not to avoid appearing before probe agencies when summoned as it was their duty to respect the law and legal provisions.
Mr. Naidu made this suo motu announcement soon after the end of the Zero Hour at noon, urging members not to cite house duty as a pretext to avoid summons by law enforcement agencies.
RS member and Essel Group promoter Subhash Chandra recently did not appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) stating that he was occupied with the ongoing Parliament session, among other reasons.
Mr. Chandra was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a money-laundering probe against Yes Bank promoter Rana Kapoor and others.
Without taking any name, Mr. Naidu told members, “I would like to make a mention that no member of the House should avoid appearing before any investigating agency when she or he is called upon to do so by citing the reason of House duty.”
“As a lawmaker it is our bounded duty to respect the law and legal procedures. It applies to all in all cases because you can only inform House is in session, give me further date, but you cannot avoid the law enforcing agencies’ summons or notices. This has to be taken note of by all,” he said and added that he was only stating provisions of law and rules.
His announcement was lauded by some members. – PTI
11.50 am | Rajya Sabha
“Instant food means constant disease,” Speaker Venkaiah Naidu quips during a Special Mention by BJP MP Rakesh Sinha on the ills of fast food that uses spices that are harmful to health.
Lighter moment ensues.
11.35 am | Rajya Sabha
No surveillance, no intrusion of privacy, reiterates Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
Congress MP Anand Sharma raises questions of the data privacy issue with regard to the Department of Telecommunications statement issued on Wednesday.
“The government DoT is seeking call data records of millions of subscribers, not randomly, but on a regular monthly basis, including in Delhi where we all live,” says Mr. Sharma.
“Under the guidelines and license conditions of the mobile operators, the law enforcement agencies alone can seek the call data records, which they have to preserve and make available but in specific cases, not for general surveillence purposes. In 2013, the issue of unauthorized access of CDR of several political leaders, including then leader of opposition, late Arun Jaitley. As a response, then UPA govt moved to tighten guidelines for obtaining the call records. Under new guidelines, such call data records can only be called for after clearance from Home Secretary and officers of rank of Superintent of Police and above alone are authorised to seek such details. SPs have to give mandatory declaration to District Magistrate about the CDR obtained every month. Nothing of this has been done, which is why concerns havee been raised abt India being converted into a surveillance state. This is a serious breach of privacy of citizens,” he says, reminding the House that in Delhi alone, there are around 53 million subscribers.
Mr. Sharma asks the govt to place on record the Home Secretary’s orders, and the SP’s declaration to the DM.
Speaker gives Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad a chance to respond to this.
“I want to assure this House that there is no surveillance, there is no intrusion of privacy, no individual phone is being tapped, conversation recorded,” says Minister of Minister of Communications Ravi Shankar Prasad, in response.
The Minister says that the dept issued a public statement on Wednesday to address the issue of calls being dropped, and to use a new technology to address it. This is being done with the cooperation and approval of the operators, he added.
11.10 am | Lok Sabha
Questions on renewable energy sources
Question hour in progress in the Lower House. Questions on growth and investment in clean energy sector, and its impact on the rural agricultural population being raised.
On the use of solar energy, a member asks the Minister how much energy produced from the hydrocarbons went down, and the that from renewable sources went up in the past years.
Minister of State, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Raj Kumar Singh said that the percentage of energy from hydrocarbons has gone down from 9.89% to 9.21% in the past years.
Energy produced from renewable sources touched 50,000 MW in last 5 years, he said.
11 am | Rajya Sabha
Ranjan Gogoi takes oath
Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Thursday took oath as member of Rajya Sabha amid uproar by opposition members.
Former Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi takes oath in the Rajya Sabh as a nominated member
As Mr. Gogoi reached the designated spot to take the oath, opposition members raised slogans prompting Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu to say that it was unbecoming of members.
Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad defends the government’s decision, says that it is done in accordance to existing laws.
Bills for Consideration and Passing
- Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020
- Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020
Bill for Consideration and Passing
Discussion on the Working of Ministry
- Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Law and Justice, Rural Development and Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare