NEW DELHI: Rajya Sabha proceedings were disrupted for the third day in a row on Wednesday as the Congress and other opposition parties created an uproar demanding a discussion on three new farm laws of the Centre.
The proceedings were first adjourned till 12 noon and then again till 2 pm after the opposition members trooped into the Well of the House raising slogans.
Repeated pleas by Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and then by Deputy Chairman Harivansh to restore order went unheeded as the opposition members continued to create a ruckus in the House.
Amid the din, the House passed through voice vote the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2021. The bill amends the arbitration law that would ensure all stakeholders get a chance to seek an unconditional stay on enforcement of arbitral awards where an agreement is “induced by fraud or corruption”.
The bill was passed in Lok Sabha on February 12. It will replace an ordinance issued on November 4, 2020.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said it makes the provision to avoid payment of tax payers’ money as an award in those cases where the agreement or contract is “induced by fraud or corruption”.
“We only want that there should be fair arbitration in India. Our only intention is that people should not loot taxpayers’ money through arbitration award,” he said.
“The larger question is that India’s taxpayer money would be given in these awards. India is a free country. But will some businessmen abuse the system and take away natural resources…. We brought this ordinance because we wanted to safeguard taxpayers’ money. This is a national compelling necessity to pass this bill,” the minister said.
Immediately after the passage of the bill, Deputy Chairman Harivansh adjourned Rajya Sabha for the day as opposition parties continued raising slogans demanding discussion on the three central farm laws.
The House will meet next on Monday.
Earlier, soon after the laying of papers, Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge said notices have been given under Rule 267 for the suspension of the listed business for the day to discuss the three farm laws and issues related to farmers.
As the opposition members raised slogans demanding withdrawal of the three farm laws, the chairman “disallowed” the notices, saying the issue was discussed in the first leg of the ongoing Budget Session.
He asked the agitating members to return to their seats and said the farmers’ issue could be discussed during the debate on appropriation bills and finance bills.
“I request you to allow under Rule 267 to discuss this issue…till then it will not be fair…without taking notice of this, we cannot proceed. So we request that you suspend all the rules and take it,” Kharge said.
Naidu said he has gone through the notices given by Deepender Singh Hooda, Rajeev Satav, Partap Singh Bajwa (all three from the Congress), Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD) and Tiruchi Siva (DMK) about the need to discuss the farmers’ issue and to suspend all other business of the House.
Subsequently, he said, Ashok Siddharth (BSP) has given a notice on the issue of fuel price rise that “we have already disposed of yesterday”.
“About these notices, I would like to say that this House, in this session itself, in the first part, has discussed farmers’ issues and the farmers’ agitation…I have disallowed the notice,” the chairman said.
“There is a procedure to take back the laws, which you know. If you have the numbers, you can prevail upon the government. If the numbers are not there and then you want to disrupt the House, it is not fair,” the chairman said, urging the members to return to their seats.
“You are not doing any justice to the farmers’ cause,” he observed.
He asked the members to raise issues of farmers as part of the discussion on the Ministries of Agriculture, Rural Development and Food Processing, for which around two-three hours have been allotted.
“If you are really interested in discussion, please follow the discussion route and if you only want disruption, then I leave it to you,” Naidu said amid slogan-shouting by the opposition members demanding a repeal of the “black” laws.
The chairman then adjourned the House till 12 noon.
When the House reassembled at 12 noon, the deputy chairman called for the Question Hour to be taken up, but the opposition members continued with their protest in the Well.
As the Chair proceeded with the Question Hour, the protesting members raised their pitch and started sloganeering against the government demanding a repeal of the farm laws.
Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar tried to give his reply to a supplementary question raised by M Thambidurai of the AIADMK, but he could not be heard in the din.
With the opposition protests continuing, the deputy chairman adjourned the House till 2 pm.
This is the third day of the second part of the Budget Session when the House proceedings had to be adjourned due to opposition uproar.
Chairman Naidu called upon MPs to take part in ‘Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav, planned by the government to mark India’s 75 years of Independence, from March 12. The celebrations are to be dotted with several events, exhibitions, social media campaigns, virtual shows and site events across all states and union territories.
“I urge members to take part in the ‘Mahotsav’ in large numbers and in various capacities and spread the values and ideals which our freedom fighters always stood for and helped our country gain freedom from the yoke of colonial rule,” he said.