One of the shortest sessions of the Rajya Sabha turned out to be one of the most efficient as 25 bills were passed in the recent monsoon session. However, already in controversy over the removal of Question Hour, the session generated more heat in its course due to the passing of some notable bills.
Crux of the Matter
Short And ‘Efficient’ Session
The 252nd session of Rajya Sabha was adjourned on 23 September 2020, with the monsoon session starting on 14 September but ending early from the expected date of 1 October. Only 10 sittings occurred instead of the scheduled 18, with the growing rate of Covid-19 being cited as the reason for such an abrupt ending.
It was the 2nd shortest Rajya Sabha monsoon session as the 110th session of July 1979 and the 187th session of October 1999 had 6 six sittings each (both monsoon). Overall, it was the 3rd shortest session as it ranks behind the 111th session which had only 1 sitting on August 20, 1979, and the other 2 mentioned above. 25 bills were passed and 6 bills were introduced in this session, which registered 100.47% productivity. However, controversy occurred during this session due to the removal of the Question Hour as well as the passing of the Farm Bills.
Following are some of the major bills passed by Rajya Sabha:
3 bills were passed under the group, which were:
- The Industrial Relations Code, 2020
- The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 (OSH)
- The Social Security Code, 2020
Following changes would be brought by the bills:
- Firms with up to 300 workers would be allowed to dismiss staff without Government approval. Earlier, any firm with more than 100 workers had to seek permission from the Government to do so.
- Employee Provident Fund Organisation benefits would be provided to firms with 20 or more workers as well as the self-employed people.
- Unions would be required to provide 60 days’ notice prior to a strike.
- Universal Social Security has been announced for both the “organised and unorganised” sectors, while a “Social Security Fund” would be set up for 40 crore workers from the unorganised sector.
- Only 1 licence would be required under the OSH for hiring across different places instead of the earlier practice of requiring multiple licences.
Critics have claimed that the amendments are similar to the changes brought in Uttar Pradesh in May 2020, when the state suspended several labour laws including the Minimum Wages Act, the Maternity Benefit Act, the Payment of Bonus Act, etc for 3 years
Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020
- The Amendment brings co-operative banks under RBI supervision.
- The aim of such a step is to prevent a crisis like the recent Punjab and Maharashtra (PMC) Co-operative Bank one.
- 51% of members of the Board of Directors of co-operative banks are now required to have knowledge/experience in banking, law, economics, etc. RBI now has the authority to remove the directors and appoint adequate personnel. if the Board does not follow the mentioned requirements.
- The Amendment would not be applicable to “primary agricultural credit societies and co-operative land mortgage banks”.
Jammu And Kashmir Official Languages Bill, 2020
The bill added ‘Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi’ languages to the list of the official languages of Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier, only Urdu and English were the official languages.
Other Bills Passed By Rajya Sabha
- The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed after the 2 farm bills. It removed cereals, potatoes, onions etc from “essential commodities” list while also removing the restrictions on their storage. The farm bills allow farmers to sell to private buyers and industries besides the APMC ‘mandis’.
- The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was passed, which converted agencies like DGCA, AAIB and BCAS into statutory bodies while granting them more authority.
- The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment (FCRA) Bill, 2020 was approved. The Bill tightened measures regarding the use of foreign funds by NGOs as well as the penalties levied on their misuse.
- The Vice President of India is the ex-officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, who presides over its sessions. Venkaiah Naidu is the current Vice President of India.
- A bicameral legislature has legislators in two separate assemblies, chambers, or houses. Bicameralism is distinguished from unicameralism, in which all members deliberate and vote as a single group, and from some legislatures that have three or more separate assemblies, chambers, or houses. As of 2015, about 40% of the world’s national legislatures are bicameral, and about 60% are unicameral.
- Sansad Marg is a street located in New Delhi, India. The street gets its name from the Parliament House (Sansad Bhavan).
- Hindustan Times – Understanding the new labour codes
- Oneindia – What is Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2020: What it means for banks and customers?
- Moneycontrol – Parliament Monsoon Session | Both Houses pass Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill
- India Today – Monsoon Session 2020 third shortest since Rajya Sabha came into existence in 1952
- The Print – UP suspends labour laws: What stays, what goes and why ‘it is a step in right direction’