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Lok Sabha passes two bills amid opposition protests

·3 min read
Parliament House
Parliament House

New Delhi [India], August 4 (ANI): Amid the din created by opposition members, Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed The Tribunals Reforms Bill, 2021, which proposes to abolish certain more tribunals and authorities and to provide for a mechanism to file an appeal directly to the Commercial Court or the High Court, as the case may be.

The House also passed The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021,

The two bills were passed amid protests in the House by opposition members over their demands including a probe into allegations of surveillance through Pegasus spyware.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury opposed the Tribunals Reforms Bill and said "this kind of legislation will augur ominous symptom in our country".

"This is nothing but a serious encroachment upon the judiciary," he said.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said she is happy that opposition leaders are demanding discussion, but "none of them is making any efforts to stop the disruption".

"It is sad that we have to pass such an important bill without proper discussion, but it is needed as various cases are pending under these tribunals," she said.

"We had to bring an ordinance when the bill could not be passed in February (during Monsoon Session). Now we seek to replace the ordinance with this bill," she added.

The Essential Defence Services Bill, 2021 allows the central government to prohibit strikes, lock-outs, and lay-offs in units engaged in essential defence services.

The bill seeks to define the expressions "essential defence services" and "strike," empower the Central Government to prohibit strike in essential defence services, provide for disciplinary action, including dismissal, against employees participating in the strike and provide for penalties for illegal strikes.

Responding to concerns of opposition members who briefly spoke on the bill, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the bill has been brought keeping in view the demands of national security to ensure that there is no disruption in the supply of arms and ammunition.

Referring to employees of Ordinance Factory boards, he said cordial discussions have been held with their representatives.

He said the Act will be effective if it is invoked and there may not be a need to invoke it. He urged the House to unanimously pass the bill.

RSP member NK Premachandran said there are 41 Ordnance Factories in the country. "The Government of India under the Ministry of Defence is trying to convert this into separate boards and finally, it is an indirect way of privatisation of ordnance factories in our country and the sole purpose of this Bill is to ban strike. Eighty-four thousand employees in the defence sector, particularly in the ordnance factories will be affected by this. Banning the right to strike means taking away the legitimate right of the workers," he said.

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury termed the bill as "a draconian measure". "It is retrogressive legislation that is being passed by this government. The government is intending to throttle the democratic right of the labourers of our country. It is totally undemocratic legislation and this is being bulldozed in this House," he alleged.

The Rajya Sabha, which also faced disruptions from the opposition over their demands, passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The bill has already been passed by the Lok Sabha. (ANI)

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