The government has lined up heavy legislative agenda for the monsoon session of Parliament, which is likely to be stormy. As many as 17 new bills are expected to be presented.
The upcoming Parliament session—starting from July 19 and will have 19 sittings till August 13—will give a peak into the results of the efforts to build opposition unity which were initiated after Mamata Banerjee’s victory in the West Bengal elections. The opposition parties are trying for a joint strategy inside the house to counter the government on key issues—the devastating second wave of COVID-19, vaccination policy, farmers’ agitation, price rise, including the hike in petrol prices.
The farmers’ unions have already given a call that they will hold protests outside the Parliament, where only those with identity cards will allowed to prevent the repeat of the recent Republic Day protest.
On the government side, efforts are on to ensure smooth functioning of the house. Newly appointed leader of the house in Rajya Sabha, Piyush Goyal, met leaders of several parties to request their cooperation. The government is expected to allow discussion on key issues, but advocate tough stance against disruptions.
Besides, this will be the first session after new ministers joined cabinet. It will give them an opportunity to represent their plans for the ministries during the question hour and discussions.
Among the key new bills set to be introduced are three that will replace the ordinances already issued since the last session. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which will replace the ordinance issued earlier, will have amendments that aim to provide relief to the MSME sector. The Essential Defence Service Bill, 2021, provides for the government to prohibit strikes, lock-outs, and lay-offs in units engaged in essential defence services. There is also the one to provide legal mechanism to tackle air pollution in NCR through the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Bill, 2021.
Among other new bills listed are: the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Amendment Bill, 2021 which seeks to amend law related to land acquisition for coal areas; the Chartered Accountants, and the Company Secretaries (Amendment) Bill, 2021 aimed at reforming and speeding up the disciplinary mechanism of related Institutes; the Limited Liability Partnership (Amendment) Bill 2021 that aims to to decriminalise 12 compoundable offences which deal with procedural and technical violations; and the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill.
The Lok Sabha may also take up a new reform through The Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which proposes to de-license the distribution business and bring in competition. This bill allows for multiple power distribution companies to operate in an area, thus giving the consumer a choice.
A bill to set up central university in Ladakh will also be introduced, while another will bestow national importance institute tag on Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal. The Cantonment Bill, 2021 offers for “greater democratization, modernisation and overall improvement in governance structure of Cantonment Boards.
The government also aims to introduce the Indian Antarctica Bill, 2021 which will provide policy and regulatory framework for India’s Antarctic activities and to provide national measures for protecting the Antarctic environment.
The other new bills are: the PFRDA (Amendment) Bill, for separation of NPS Trust from PFRDA and for ensuring universal pension coverage as well as strengthening PFRDA; the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2021 for safeguarding interests of small depositors; the Indian Marine Fisheries Bill, 2021; the Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Amendment) Bill; the Inland Vessels Bill, 2021.
The government will also push for passing of four bills which were already introduced in Lok Sabha but were referred to standing committees. After the reports have been submitted, the government would list them for passing. These are: DNA Technology Regulation Bill, 2019; Factoring Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Bill, 2020; and the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The Rajya Sabha will additionally take up three bills which have already been passed by the Lok Sabha. These are Surrogacy Bill, Juvenile Justice Amendment Bill, and Marine Aids to Navigation Bill.