New Delhi, Dec. 18: Parliament’s truncated winter session may have ended on a high with the passage of the Lokpal bill but, in terms of legislative business, the 15th Lok Sabha has the worst record.
According to the PRS Legislative Research Institute, an independent research body, 126 bills are still waiting for Parliament’s nod, including bills on judicial accountability and protecting whistleblowers — two key legislation that would have been part of a “comprehensive” anti-graft legal framework that Rahul Gandhi spoke about today.
Neither could be passed in this session that ended today, two days ahead of schedule.
The list also includes constitutional amendments to the women’s reservation bill, which seeks to reserve for women 33 per cent of the seats in Parliament, state legislatures and local elected bodies.
The government is thinking of holding a brief session in January to sort out the Telangana mess and is hoping to clear a few bills then. “We have adjourned the (winter) session sine die, we have not prorogued the session… it can be brought at a short notice,” parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said, making the distinction to point out that the House had not been dissolved.
About the pending bills to tackle graft, he said talks would be held with all parties on another session. “After talking to all the parties, we will take a decision on this so that we can process with the strengthening of all anti-corruption efforts to which the government is committed.”
The pending list includes many bills the UPA II government wanted to pass. Among them are the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill and the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill. These two already figure in Bharat Nirman advertisements.
The first seeks to protect the interests of homebuyers by reigning in unregulated builders who make false promises. The second would give legal cover to street vendors by protecting them from harassment by police and civic officials.
The women’s bill had been introduced during the tenure of UPA I in May 2008 in the Rajya Sabha. The House of Elders cleared it in March 2010. But the government has not been able to get it passed in the Lok Sabha.
With Parliament adjourned two days early, the government could not also squeeze in the communal violence bill, which makes public servants accountable for any acts of commission or omission while handling such flare-ups. The cabinet had cleared it on Monday.
The government has also failed to get parliamentary approval for the Unique Identification Authority of India, headed by Nandan Nilekani, the man behind the Aadhaar effort. Nilekani is likely to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Bangalore on a Congress ticket.
The Judicial Standards Accountability Bill, 2012, another pending legislation, requires judges to declare their assets. The bill, which seeks to set up a mechanism to probe complaints against judges, is stuck in the Rajya Sabha.
The Whistleblowers Protection Bill, 2011 — also stuck in the upper House — promises to protect any person who blows the lid off scams and corruption cases.
UPA II has also failed to clear key financial reforms, such as the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2008, which seeks to raise the limit of foreign holding to 49 per cent.