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Parliament proceedings disrupted for sixth day

By Pti
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    New Delhi, Mar 12: The proceedings in both Houses of Parliament were stalled for the sixth day on Monday with no let up in protests by opposition parties and NDA ally TDP over various issues including the banking scam, special status to Andhra Pradesh and the Cauvery water dispute.

    File photo of Lok Sabha

    The Aam Aadmi Party too joined the protests in Rajya Sabha, demanding an end to the sealing drive in Delhi. Amid the din in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla introduced The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018, that seeks to confiscate all assets of absconding fraudsters and loan defaulters for recovering dues from them.

    The Bill was introduced in the backdrop protests over the nearly Rs 12,700 crore fraud at Punjab National Bank in which businessman Nirav Modi is allegedly involved. The proposed law will apply to defaulters who have an outstanding of Rs 100 crore or more and have escaped from the country. The Minister also introduced the The Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill 2018.

    Not much business has been carried out since the second leg of the Budget Session of Parliament began on March 5, with the noisy protests stalling proceedings every day, barring for one hour on March 8 when members participated in a discussion to mark the International Women's Day in the upper house Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House immediately after the Question Hour started today as the TRS, TDP, AIADMK and YSR Congress members stormed the Well carrying placards and raised slogans in support of their demands.

    When the House met again at noon, the protests continued but the Speaker went ahead with the proceedings, including introduction of the two bills by Shukla. Bhartruhari Mahtab of the BJD opposed the introduction of The Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill, saying its provisions violated the citizens' fundamental rights and that it is based on the premise of "guilty till proven innocent" and not the other way round. He questioned the provision of seizing assets of an accused before he was proved guilty.

    However, Shukla said these provisions can be debated during the discussion on the bill and introduced the bill. Soon after this, the House was adjourned. The two houses have been witnessing bedlam since March 5. The TDP, which remains a member of the ruling NDA though it has pulled out of the central government, is demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh. The TRS members are seeking enhanced reservation in Telangana, while the AIADMK is pressing for constitution of the Cauvery river board to settle Tamil Nadu's water dispute with neighbours.

    The Congress and the TMC have been raising the issue of bank frauds. Similar scenes were witnessed in the Rajya Sabha, where the House was first adjourned till 2 pm and later for the day due to unrelenting protests by members on these issues. After the papers were laid in the House, members of TDP, YSRC, TMC, AIADMK and AAP were up on their feet seeking to raise a point of order. As Chairman Venkaiah Naidu tried to pacify the members and conduct the Zero Hour, protesting members trooped into the Well holding placards and shouting slogans. The only Congress member protesting in the Well was K V P Ramachandra Rao from Andhra Pradesh.

    "When there is no order, how can there be a point of order? This is too much," Naidu said asking members to go back to their seats.

    "I don't find any reason to come to the Well of House," the Chairman said adding that he is allowing discussion on all subjects.

    With members continuing their protest, the Chair was forced to adjourn the House till 2 pm. Earlier, Naidu said ministers can lay papers on behalf of other ministers but they should seek prior permission from the chair. "Proper advance notice should be given," Naidu said.

    When Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel rose to make a statement on behalf of Minister of State for Drinking Water and Sanitation S S Ahluwalia, Naidu said, "Statement has to be made by the minister concerned."

    Ahluwalia was to make a statement regarding status of implementation of recommendations of the 35th report of Parliamentary Standing Committee on rural development. The protests continued as the House met again at 2 pm. Trinamool Congress (TMC) member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy stood up seeking the Chair's permission to raise a point of order.

    However, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha P J Kurien, who was in the Chair, said the House needs to be in order first. Unrelenting members from TDP stormed the Well carrying placards demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh while the AIADMK demanded setting up of Cauvery water management board. Joining them, Aam Aadmi Party members shouted slogans seeking an end to the sealing drive in Delhi, whereas the Congress and the TMC raised the bank fraud issue.

    Amid the noisy protests, Ahluwalia laid on the table of the House the statement regarding the status of implementation of recommendations contained in the 35th report of the Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development on Demands for Grants (2017-18). However, as the pandemonium continued, Kurien adjourned the proceedings of the House for the day after barely a couple of minutes.

    PTI

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