New Delhi: Opposition parties on Wednesday slammed the “bypassing” of rules and procedure in extending the current winter session by a day in Rajya Sabha, saying the members were neither informed nor was their consent taken for the move.
Members of the Congress, the TMC and the AIADMK cited rule book to criticise the extension.
Deputy chairman Harivansh said that it may be considered his “personal lapse” and a “lapse in his understanding” in not conveying at the time of adjourning proceedings on Tuesday that the sitting of the House has been extended by a day.
He said the extension of the sitting of the House was on agenda of the BAC meeting of Tuesday after a request was received from the government.
BAC minuted acceptance of the request, he said adding when he on Tuesday adjourned the proceedings of the House till 11 am on Wednesday, it was “implied” that the sitting of the House has been extended by a day.
“If you think it is a lapse (in not communicating about the extension in so many words), please it as a lapse of my understanding and my personal lapse,” he said.
Finance minister and leader of the House Arun Jaitley conceded the rules provide for taking a sense of the House for extending the sitting but said since “an important business has been pending, the Chair has taken a decision.
“It is being a long-standing tradition; we don’t question the ruling as far as the chair is concerned,” he said.
The government maintained that the chairman was within his rights to extend the sitting in view of important legislations, including the one to provide 10% reservation in educational institutions and government jobs to poor from upper castes, are pending.
When the House met for the extended one day on Wednesday, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) cited Rule 12 of Rajya Sabha to state that the sitting can be extended by the chairman after making an announcement in the House and the change being published in the Rajya Sabha Bulletin.
“There was no announcement. There was no notification. In protest of that, we were sitting in the House even after the adjournment (of the proceedings on Tuesday),” he said adding a bulletin was published in the dark of the night.
“This is not only an abridgement of the rules but also a total disregard to the Parliamentary procedures hitherto practised by this House. It is unprecedented, arbitrary and illegal.”
He said no one was questioning the power of the chairman to extend the session but the only concern was about rules not being followed.
Satish Chandra Misra (BSP), Surendra Singh Nagar (SP), T.K. Rangarajan (CPI), Kanimozhi (DMK), Dola Sen (TMC), Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) and Sanjay Singh (AAP) were among the members who associated themselves with the issue.
Anand Sharma (Congress) said no one is challenging the right of the government but that the House has to be run by rules.
No decision on extending the sitting of the House was taken at the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting and no time was allocated, he said adding this is the first time that there is no dialogue between the government and the opposition on that matter.
It is the government’s responsibility to take opposition into confidence for the smooth running of the House, he said. “The government has not taken an initiative to run the House.”
Sharma said it is the established practice in Rajya Sabha that no bill be brought without the scrutiny of parliamentary committees but this was not being followed.
Sensitive bills are being brought bypassing Parliament scrutiny and treating the House as a rubber stamp, he said.
S.R. Balasubramoniyan (AIADMK) said the Lok Sabha was Tuesday adjourned sine die. “But here (in Rajya Sabha), all of a sudden, without taking the sense of the House into consideration, you announced that the House would meet tomorrow (January 9) at 11 am. How can you announce it like that? You never had the powers.”
He said the rules provide that the chairman may make any variations in the allocation of time order by taking the sense of the House. “There was no agreement at all. You never took the sense of the House.”
Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Vijay Goel said members should have been concerned about half of the 20 days of the session being washed out in pandemonium.
It is the right of the government to change or increase sitting of the House, he said, adding the decision to extend the House was first taken at the BAC meeting and then the chairman holding an informal meeting with leaders of opposition parties.