The Week In Parliament

The Lok Sabha has passed the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019, which provides for the setting up of a New Delhi International Arbitration Centre and declaring it as an institution of national importance for its overall development as a major arbitration hub. Replying to the debate on the bill on Wednesday, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, the government is keen to make the country a hub of international and domestic arbitration.

Both the Houses of Parliament have adopted statutory resolutions for levying 200 per cent duty on all goods originating in or exported from Pakistan. The Houses approved the amendment in the first Schedule of Custom Tariff Act. New Delhi had notified the basic custom duty to 200 per cent on all goods exported from Islamabad with effect from 16th of February this year. The Resolutions were moved by Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the government is committed to boost agriculture, education and health sectors. She said it is also committed to fiscal consolidation without compromising public expenditure. Replying to the debate on Union Budget 2019-20 in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, she said the budgetary proposals are also aimed at bringing in transformational changes in the country. She said the government has set the target to keep fiscal deficit at 3.3 per cent against what was envisaged in the interim budget of 3.4 per cent.

Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that the Cross-border infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir fell by 43 per cent in the first half of 2019 as compared to the same period in 2018. He said the terrorist incidents in the state declined by 28 per cent and local recruitment of militants by 40 per cent in the corresponding period. Minister of State for Defence Shripad told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply on Monday that there have been 1299 ceasefire violations on the Indo-Pak border till June 2019 as against 1629 during the same period last year. 

Minister of State for Atomic Energy and Space Dr. Jitendra Singh has said the Gaganyaan project is on track to be realized by the 75th Independence Day or earlier. The design and configuration of major subsystems are finalized. The qualification tests pertaining to human rating of flight systems has commenced and Cryogenic Engine tests are in progress. The crew training plan is finalized and the crew selection process has commenced. Fiving this information in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, he said a Gaganyaan National Advisory Council has been created with members from different institutions and industries.

Parliament has passed a bill allowing voluntary use of Aadhaar as proof of identity for opening bank accounts and getting mobile connections. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the members that the government is framing a robust Data Protection Act to be introduced soon in Parliament. He said the whole world is walking towards India’s data protection. He said India is a country of inclusion, reforms and empowerment. The Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, provides for one crore rupees penalty and a jail term for private entities violating the provisions on Aadhaar data. It also provides for use of Aadhaar number for Know Your Customer authentication on voluntary basis.

Both the Houses witnessed noisy scenes over the political developments in Karnataka forcing their repeated adjournments following uproar by opposition parties including the Congress. In the Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury accused the BJP of doing poaching politics to destabilize the Congress-JD(S) government in the state. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, however, dismissed the allegation saying that the Centre has nothing to do with the current political turmoil in the state.


Script: V. Mohan Rao, Journalist