Opposition MPs bat for scrutiny of human rights amendment bill by parl panel

The MPs said they were not given enough time to move amendments to the Bill that was passed by the Lok Sabha last Friday. After that, there were two holidays

Opposition MPs bat for scrutiny of human rights amendment bill by parl panel

PTI

Opposition members in Rajya Sabha on Monday demanded that a bill for changes in human rights protection law to expedite appointments in NHRC and state rights bodies be sent to a parliamentary panel for scrutiny.

The MPs also claimed that they were not given enough time to move amendments.

Participating in the debate on Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Congress MP Vivek K Tankha expressed apprehension that the proposed changes in law would empower the government to handpick members.

He suggested that human rights trackrecord of experts appointed on the commissions should also be checked.

Tankha said the government should have brought "functional amendments" in the existing law and not "cosmetic" ones.

He said if the bill was sent to select committee or standing committee of parliament, larger issues would have been addressed.

Elmaram Kareem (CPI-M) too made a case for sending the bill to a select committee of Rajya Sabha.

A similar demand was made K Ravindra Kumar (TDP).

The bill, passed by Lok Sabha last Friday, is aimed expediting the process of appointment of chairperson and members of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

Raising a point of order, Sukhendu Sekhar (TMC) said as per a rule (130), members should be given two working days to move amendments on a bill.

In the case of the current bill, the House was informed about the passage of the bill only after 5 pm on Friday, he said and asked if the Rule 130 has been "disposed of".

Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad also raised objection on the "procedure" being followed on the bill.

He said the House was informed about the bill on Friday and after that there were two holidays.

The senior Congress leader said several members want to move amendments and it is their right.

"Members of Parliament should be given time to move amendments," he added.

Bhupinder Yadav (BJP) said that it was decided that amendments could be moved till 12 noon and a member also moved one, which was circulated.

However, protest by members continued.

Earlier in the day, the House was adjourned twice as opposition members trooped into the Well and raised slogans highlighting various issues like political crisis in Karnataka, killings in Sonbhadra district of UP and mob lynching in Bihar.

When the House met at 3 pm, the opposition members including those from TMC and AAP resumed their protests The protesting members were raising slogans like "Dictatorship will not be allowed", "Dalit virodhi yeh sarkar, nahin chalegi" and "Goondagardi nahin chalegi".

Amid protests, Deputy Chairman Harivansh kept requesting the members to start discussing the bill and called Prabhat Jha of the BJP to speak.

In the meantime, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu returned to the House and made the announcement regarding successful launch of Chandrayaan-2, India's second lunar mission, amid thumping of benches.

As the protesting members had returned to their seats, Naidu said said "we are the House of elders" and members cannot demand order in the House after creating disorder.

Later, the House started debating the human rights amendment bill.

Prabhat Jha was again asked by Deputy Chairman Harivansh to resume his address on the bill.

While defending the bill, Jha alleged that in past efforts were made to falsely implicate Narendra Modi.

He also alleged that certain people in the name of human rights protection were making money.

He said no human rights activists came forward when Kashmiri Pandits were driven away from their homes or even when security personnel were killed.

Ram Gopal Yadav (SP) pointed out "discrepancies" in the bill.

The senior SP member was of the view that if people in administration are hopeful of appointment in human rights commissions, they would shy away from giving an adverse report against the government.

He claimed the proposed amendments would weaken the existing law.

Prasanna Acharya (BJD) highlighted the large number of vacancies in human rights commissions.

Congress member Madhusudan Mistry said the human rights commission should be empowered to investigate cases and should have adequate funding.

Manoj Kumar Jha (RJD), Sanjay Raut (SS), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Rakesh Sinha (BJP) and S Muthukaruppan (AIADMK) too expressed their views on the bill.

Earlier before the House was adjourned for the second time in the post-lunch session, the Deputy Chairman had asked the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityanand Rai to move The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill 2019 for passage in the House.

Opposition members, however, soon trooped into the well protesting on issues like political crisis in Karnataka and Sonbhadra killings.

The Deputy Chairman told the members that the Chairman has already given a ruling on the political crisis in Karnataka and that the issue cannot be discussed in the House as the matter is sub-judice.

Raising a point of order under Rule 95, TMC leader Derek O'Brien said members did not get sufficient time to submit amendments to the bill as the draft law was passed by Lok Sabha last week and sent to the House on Friday evening.

The Deputy Chairman said members had time till noon to file their amendments to the Bill.

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