Monsoon Session in Parliament to begin today, Opposition charts strategy | Bills on table

Parliament is set to resume on Monday amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The Monsoon Session of Parliament is scheduled to be held between September 14, 2020, and October 1, 2020.

There will be a total of 18 sittings. Currently, 46 Bills are pending in Parliament of which, 17 Bills are listed for consideration. At the same time, six Bills are listed for withdrawal and 23 Bills are listed for introduction, consideration, and passing.

Opposition parties, including Congress have drawn up their strategies on how to approach Ordinances brought by the Center during the pandemic. The Congress, in particular, has decided to oppose Bills related to the four Ordinances likely to be tabled by the Center during the session.

Jairam Ramesh, the party’s Chief Whip in Rajya Sabha told reporters that Congress will seek amendments to seven other bills on Ordinances brought by the Narendra Modi government. He said, “Out of a total of 11 Ordinances, three are agriculture-related and one related to amendment in Bank Regulation Act, we will oppose these four wholeheartedly, the other Ordinances we can support the bills but there are issues we will raise when they come up for discussion.”

During his virtual interaction with media persons on the eve of the Monsoon Session, Ramesh added, “We have discussed with different political parties, what our common stand should be and generally speaking, the stand we have outlined opposition parties, likeminded parties are opposed to the three Agriculture Ordinances and to the Banking Regulation Act Ordinance.”

Congress is against the Centre’s Taxation Ordinance which exempted PM CARES fund from any tax, Jairam Ramesh said adding, “We are completely against the PM CARES fund which is not transparent, CAG cannot audit it, RTI Act does not apply to it.”

He went further to add that Congress is not opposed to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code amendment which allows six months’ time to companies with the flexibility to extend it up to a year. However, Jairam Ramesh said, “But we are concerned that the small entities and the MSMEs will not get payments from big companies.”

Among the remaining seven Bills, the Congress will support two concerning Ayurveda and Homeopathy Council. The Congress will also support two other bills related to wage cuts of MPs and Ministers but with riders.

“While the government says it has to cut wages of MPs but on the other hand it is splurging Rs 20-25 thousand crores on Central Vista Project, also we will raise the issue that suspension of MPLAD scheme will hit development work in constituencies,” Congress’ Chief Whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh said.

With the Monsoon Session set to begin, here are some important Bills to watch out for:

Bills listed for introduction, consideration and passing

1. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy (Second) Amendment Bill, 2020: Replaces an Ordinance temporarily suspending initiation of corporate insolvency resolution process under sections 7, 9 and 10 of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code for a specified period of six months or such further period, up to one year.

2. The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020: Replaces an Ordinance and strengthens the regulatory framework of co-operative banks, enabling RBI to prepare a scheme for reconstruction or amalgamation of a banking company without imposing a moratorium.

3. The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020: Replaces an Ordinance, addressing the challenges faced by taxpayers in meeting the statutory and regulatory compliances due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

4.The Salary and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Bill, 2020: Replaces an Ordinance, reducing the sumptuary allowance payable to each minister by 30 per cent for a period of one year commencing from April 1, 2020 to meet the exigencies arising out of Covid-19.

5. The Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Bill, 2020: Replaces an Ordinance, reducing the salary of Members of Parliament (MPs) by 30 per cent for a period of one year commencing from April 1, 2020 to meet the exigencies arising out of Covid-19.

6. The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020: Replaces an Ordinance, creating an ecosystem to facilitate remunerative prices through alternative trading channels, promotes inter-state and intra-state trade and commerce of farmers’ produce outside the physical premises of markets, and provides a framework for electronic trading.

7. The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Prices Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020: Replaces an Ordinance, providing a national framework on farming agreements to protect and empower farmers to engage with agri-business firms, processors, aggregators, wholesalers, large retailers, and exporters for farm services and sale of future farming produce at a mutually agreed remunerative price framework.

Bills listed for consideration and passing

1. The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020: Removes penalty and imprisonment in certain offenses and reduces the amount of fine payable in certain offenses, among others. This Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on March 17, 2020.

2. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019: Prohibits commercial surrogacy, allows for altruistic surrogacy. It also allows for the constitution of a National Surrogacy Board and respective state Surrogacy Boards to regulate the practice of surrogacy. This bill was passed by Lok Sabha on August 5, 2019.

3. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020: Increases the threshold for terminating a pregnancy from 12-20 weeks with the opinion of a registered medical practitioner, and from 20-24 weeks with the approval of two registered medical practitioners. Passed by Lok Sabha on 17 Mar 2020.

4. The Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019: Subsumes and rationalizes the Trade Unions Act, 1926, the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946, and the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. It was introduced in Lok Sabha on November 28 2019 and a report in this regard was presented by the concerned Standing Committee on April 23, 2020.

5. The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019: Consolidates 13 laws related to health, safety, and working conditions of workers. It applies to establishments with more than 10 workers as well as to all mines and docks. This Bill was first introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 23, 2019. The concerned Standing Committee had presented a report in this regard on February 11, 2020.

(With inputs from PRS Legislative)

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