Ruckus Over Electoral Bonds In Parliament

Congress led protests in both houses of parliament over electoral bonds and privatisation of public sector units (PSUs), leading to the walkout in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. The Congress called electoral bonds a scam and accused the government of “making corruption official”.

Crux of the Matter
  • Congress leader Manish Tewari raised the issue of electoral bonds after which for about 15-minutes MPs stormed the well while chanting slogans along with a sharp exchange of words between Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Congress MP and Speaker Om Birla.
  • Rajya Sabha Congress leaders have filed a notice to discuss electoral bonds with reference to the Reserve Bank of India’s reservation.
  • In an RTI query by Commodore (Rtd) Lokesh Batra copies of official letters and file notings were provided by the government that unveiled suspicion about introducing electoral bonds.
  • The issue became fierce when Huffpost in its article on November 18 reported that the Reserve Bank of India had objected to the scheme and the amendment to the RBI Act could encourage money laundering. But this was neglected by the government and the Finance Bill 2017 was passed.
  • Since its inception in the 2017 Union Budget, electoral bonds have been subjected to questions relating to lack of transparency.

Electoral Bonds Scheme – As per the provisions of the scheme, they can be purchased by an Indian citizen or a company incorporated or established in India. Only political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 and has secured no less than one per cent votes in the last Lok Sabha elections are eligible to receive electoral bonds. The electoral accounts are issued by the State Bank of India (SBI). The electoral bonds can be purchased in the months of January, April, July and October. A donor can purchase these bonds from specified branches of State Bank of India in multiples of Rs 1,000, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 10 lakh or Rs 1 crore and donate it to any registered political party and the party can encash it in its account like a bearer cheque. Supreme Court has asked political parties to reveal details of the donations received to the Election Commission. More Info

Home Minister Gives Statement on NRC in Rajya Sabha

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, Union Home Minister Amit Shah clarified that government will conduct NRC across India irrespective of any religion. He also said that the Citizenship Amendment Bill is different from NRC.

Crux of the Matter
  • People excluded from the NRC in Assam have the right to go to the tribunal.
  • Cost of lawyers to be borne by the state government.
  • West Bengal CM, Mamta Banerjee has strongly opposed to the decision of NRC across India.
  • Amit Shah supported the Citizenship Amendment Bill by highlighting the need of giving citizenship to all illegal migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan belonging to Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Parsi, Jain and Buddhist religions by treating them as victims of religious persecution.
  • He also spoke on restoring normalcy in Kashmir.

National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a register maintained by the Government of India containing names & certain relevant information for identification of Indian citizens. The register was first prepared after the 1951 Census of India and since then it has not been updated until recently in Assam following Supreme court order. The purpose of NRC update in the state of Assam is to identify illegal migrants residing in that state. Assam has become the first state in India where the updating of the NRC is being taken up to include the names of those persons whose names appeared in the NRC of 1951. More Info

Key Bills to be Discussed In the Winter Session of the Parliament

As the winter session began on 18th November Parliament is likely to take up 27 Bills for introduction, consideration and passing.

Crux of the Matter
  • Key Bills that will be listed for discussion include:
  • Personal Data Protection Bill: Provides for regulation of individual data by government and private entities in India and abroad. The bill states exemptions for some kinds of data processing, such as in the interest of national security, for legal proceedings, or for journalistic purposes.
  • The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill: The bill prohibits discrimination against transgender persons. The section of the bill seeks the removal of the requirement of gender certificate from the district magistrate.
  • The Arms Act (Amendment) Bill, 2019: Bill draft criminalizes and punishes acts of “tracking arms and their components from manufacturers to end-users”, “organised crime”, “negligent use of a firearm”, etc.
  • Other important bills likely to be discussed are – Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, The Dam Saftey Bill 2019, The Inter-State River Water Disputes (Amendment), Bill, 2019.
  • The government will also bring in 2 bills to replace ordinance passed for Ban on e-cigarettes and slash in corporate taxes.

Ordinances are laws that are promulgated by the President of India on the recommendation of the Union Cabinet, which will have the same effect as an Act of Parliament. They can only be issued when Parliament is not in session. They enable the Indian government to take immediate legislative action. Ordinances cease to operate either if Parliament does not approve of them within six weeks of reassembly, or if disapproving resolutions are passed by both Houses. It is also compulsory for a session of Parliament to be held within six months. A total of 679 ordinances have been issued from 1950-2014. More Info