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Monsoon Session Day 8: 

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill was introduced and passed in Lok Sabha today.  The Bill replaces Section 44 of the Act, which required disclosures of assets by public servants. Further, it   detailed the manner and timelines of such disclosures (such as disclosures to include that of spouse and dependent children, to be made by July 31 each year, ministry to publish on website by Aug 31 etc.).  This provision is applicable to all public servants as defined under the Act, including Ministers, MPs and certain NGOs (a June notification specified that NGOs receiving government funds over Rs 1 crore or FCRA funds over Rs 10 lakh would be covered).

While the Bill also requires public servants to declare their assets, it does not specify the details of how and when this must be done. These details will be prescribed by the central government- as per the bill.

There was no discussion on the Bill in the Lower House.

The table below highlights time spent by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on discussing Bills:

Time spent on discussing Bills Lok Sabha Rajya Sabha
No. of Bills % of Total Time No. of Bills % of Total Time
Up to 30 mins 5 7% 18 30%
30 mins to 2 hours 23 31% 22 37%
Above 2 hours 47 63% 20 33%
Total 75 100% 60 100%

The table  does not include the time spent on discussing the Benami Bill that was passed by the Lower House today.  

Lok Sabha also passed the Benami Transactions Amendment Bill. The Bill seeks to amend the Benami Transactions Prohibition Act, 1988 to: (i) amend the definition of benami transactions, (ii) establish adjudicating authorities and an Appellate Tribunal to deal with benami transactions, and (iii) specify the penalty for entering into benami transactions.

The government had proposed amendments to the Bill. A comparison of the Benami Transactions Bill 2015, recommendations of the Standing Committee, and amendments circulated can be found here.  

Rajya Sabha took up discussion on price rise. Members raised concerns regarding the prices of commodities such as pulses, sugar and vegetables. The Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Mr. Ramvilas Paswan replied at the end of the debate. In his reply, he stated that inadequate supply of commodities owing to issues such as hoarding are leading to increase in prices. He also added that there is a need to examine the Agricultural Produce Market Committee Act.

Rajya Sabha also took up discussion on the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill. The Bill establishes the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India and a State Compensatory Afforestation fund under the Public Account of each state. Detailed analysis with features and related issues of the bill can be found here.


Rajya Sabha was sitting as the time of sending this diary.

Monsoon Session Day 7:

Members in both Houses called the attention of the Minister of Water Resources to barrage projects being undertaken over river Mahanadi by the Government of Chhattisgarh, thereby severely impacting the flow of water into the Hirakud dam in Odisha.  The Minister replied to the discussion stating that the centre is willing to convene a meeting between the Odisha and Chhattisgarh government to resolve the issue.  

Rajya Sabha saw adjournments after the calling attention discussion. Opposition members demanded that voting on the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation (Amendment)) Bill, 2015 (a private member Bill that could not be taken up last Friday due to disruptions), be taken up.

Lok Sabha passed the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill. It seeks to prohibit the employment of children (i.e. those below 14 years of age) in all occupations and adolescents (i.e. those between 14 and 18 years of age) in hazardous occupations and processes

The government had circulated amendments to the Bill in 2015. A comparative note of these amendments, with the provisions of the Bill and the Standing Committee recommendations can be found here.

During the debate, members raised their concerns about the exceptions provided to allow children to work. These exceptions include: (i) family and a family enterprise which does not involve hazardous occupations, after school hours or during vacations, and (ii) working in the audio-visual entertainment industry (films, TV, etc.) or sports activities. Some members felt the definition of ‘family’ and ‘family enterprise’ is broad and needs to be more specific. 

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