Special Parliament Session Begins Today: Eight Bills Listed, Proceedings To Move To New Building Tomorrow
Ahead of the commencement of the five-day special session of Parliament, the government has announced that the House proceedings would move to the new Parliament building on Tuesday.
Further, eight Bills are listed for consideration and passage during the five-day special session of Parliament starting on Monday.
It remains unclear whether the government will address the contentious Bill that aims to change the method of appointment and conditions of service of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners.
The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023 was among the four Bills listed for the session by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
The LS Secretariat said that the two houses would discuss the "Parliamentary Journey of 75 years starting from Samvidhan Sabha — Achievements, Experiences, Memories and Learnings".
The EC Bill, introduced in Rajya Sabha on 10 August, was not included in the list circulated by the government at the all-party meeting held on Sunday (17 September).
In response to objections from the Opposition parties at the meet, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi reportedly stated that the government had yet to decide on its inclusion.
After the meeting, Joshi informed reporters that the session would begin in the old Parliament House on the first day i.e. today (18 September). On 19 September, there would be a photo session and a function in Central Hall at 11 am.
Following that, the Parliamentarians would proceed to the new Parliament House where the session would be held on 19 September, with regular parliamentary work starting from 20 September.
A bulletin released on Sunday instructed members to gather in Central Hall of Parliament at 11 am on Tuesday “for a function to commemorate the rich legacy of the Parliament of India and resolve to make Bharat a developed nation by 2047", Indian Express reported.
During the all-party meeting, the Opposition leaders were informed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, and Congress President and Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge would be present on the dais at the function in Central hall.
The EC Bill proposes the establishment of a high-powered selection committee, chaired by the Prime Minister and including the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha and a Cabinet minister, to appoint the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (ECs).
Additionally, the bill suggests aligning the salary, allowance, and service conditions of the three ECs with those of a Cabinet Secretary, which are currently equivalent to those of a Supreme Court Judge.
At the all-party meeting, the Opposition leaders expressed their objection to certain clauses, stating that they do not support any intervention that would compromise the independence of the poll panel. They collectively urged the government not to proceed with the Bill, deeming it "anti-constitutional" and "anti-democratic."
The Opposition leaders also raised concerns about the lack of transparency regarding the agenda.
They pointed out that the tentative list of business circulated earlier was not "exhaustive".
Although the government did not provide a response to this demand, the Opposition leaders proposed that if a Bill to reserve seats for women in Parliament and legislative bodies was introduced, parties should have the right to determine which seats should be reserved.
They argued that without this provision, it could be exploited to keep senior leaders away from their traditional constituencies.
While the majority of parties expressed support for a women's quota Bill, the SP and BSP reiterated their demand for a quota within the quota specifically for the SC and ST communities.
The meeting, chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, was attended by Piyush Goyal, the Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha.
On Sunday morning, the national flag was hoisted at the new Parliament building by Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar.
Many Opposition leaders inquired about the nature of the session, questioning whether it was a "special session" or a "normal session."
They contended that if it was a regular session, members should have the right to request the inclusion of question hour and zero hour.
Speculation has been rampant about the agenda for the special session announced by the government, which came as a surprise just a month after the Monsoon Session concluded.
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