New Delhi: The Winter Session, 2019, of Parliament which commenced on Monday, 18 November 2019, concluded today, 13 December 2019. The Session saw 20 sittings spread over a period of 26 days. During the Session, 18 Bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha passed 14 Bills while the Rajya Sabha passed 15 Bills during the session. 15 Bills were passed by both the Houses of Parliament and would become Acts of Parliament. A list containing the titles of the Bills introduced, withdrawn, considered, or passed during the Sessions has been published in another article.
During the Session, First Batch of Supplementary Demands for Grants for 2019-20 were discussed and approved along with the related Appropriation Bill in the both the Houses.
Two Bills replacing the Ordinances, namely, (i) the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Ordinance, 2019 and (ii) the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 which were promulgated by the President, were also considered and passed by both the Houses.
Some important Bills passed by Houses of Parliament are as under:
Social and Justice and Reforms – Certain Bills to further strengthen Social and Gender justice system in India were passed during this Session. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019 defines a transgender person and provides for protection of rights of Transgender persons and their welfare. The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Bill, 2019 intends to prohibit the Production, manufacture, import, export, transport, sale, distribution, storage and advertisement of e-cigarettes and like devices, considering the highly addictive nature of nicotine. This legislation aims to achieve the targets envisaged under Sustainable Development Goals, National Monitoring Framework for Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases and National Health Policy, 2017. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 will make refugees who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship which will entitle them to a dignified life in India. The Arms Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019 will effectively curb crimes related to or committed by using illegal firearms and will provide effective deterrence against violation of law.
Administrative Sector Reforms – With a view to recognise the property rights of residents of certain unauthorised colonies in the National Capital Territory of Delhi, the government has enacted National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Bill, 2019 which will address an important need of the residents. With the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, SPG will now provide security to the Prime Minister, and members of his immediate family residing with him at his official residence. It will also provide security to any former Prime Ministers, and his immediate family members residing with him at the residence allotted to him for a period of five years from the date on which he ceases to hold the office of Prime Minister. The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019 aims to retain the inclusive character as envisioned by the founding fathers of the Constitution by continuing the reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes for another ten years ie. upto 25 January, 2030.
Economic Sector/Ease of doing Business measures –Some important legislations to address the economic sentiment in the country were passed during the current session. The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019 will encourage fresh investment, stimulate growth, create fresh job opportunity in the economy, stabilize the Capital Market and increase inflow of money in to Capital market. The Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019 will facilitate orderly growth of the Chit Funds sector, thereby facilitating greater financial access of people to other financial products. The International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019 will establish the International Financial Services Centre Authority to regulate and develop a market for financial services in International Financial Services Centres in India.
Four old pending Bills namely the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 1987, the National Commission for Human Resources for Health Bill, 2011, the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Bill, 2013 and the International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill, 2019 were withdrawn in the Rajya Sabha.
In the Lok Sabha, 2 Short Duration Discussions under Rule 193 were held on ‘air pollution and climate change’ which was replied to by Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, and on ‘crop loss due to various reasons and its impact on farmers’ which was replied to by Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare.
In the Rajya Sabha a Special discussion on ‘The Role of Rajya Sabha in Indian polity and the way forward’ was held. One discussion under rule 176 was held on the economic situation in the country. Also three calling attention motions on ‘Situation arising out of the dangerous levels of air pollution in the country, particularly in Delhi’, ‘Reported use of spyware Pegasus to compromise phone data of some persons through WhatsApp’ and ‘Need for completion of National Irrigation Projects to tackle emerging water crisis and to transfer ‘Water’ to Concurrent List from State List’ were also taken up in the Rajya Sabha.
A special function was held in the Central Hall of Parliament on 26 November for Members of both Houses of Parliament to commemorate the 70 years of adoption of the Constitution. On the occasion President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Speaker and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs addressed the gathering. Among other things a Web Portal of National Youth Parliament Scheme to bring all the educational institutions of the country under the ambit of the Youth Parliament Programme was launched by the President, who also inaugurated Constitution Day celebrations at the Supreme Court.
This was also the 250th session of the Rajya Sabha, a landmark achievement. The momentous occasion was marked with speeches from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind, and Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu.
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