Women’s reservation bill among 66 listed for budget session

Friday, February 18, 2011

NEW DELHI - Bills for reserving seats for women in parliament and state legislatures, setting up a national council for higher education and research, a national commission for human resources and amending the Land Acquisition Act top the government’s agenda for parliament’s budget session starting Monday.

After losing the winter session to adjournments over the demand for a joint parliamentary committee probe into the 2G spectrum scam and hardly any business being transacted, the budget session has a long list of 66 bills to be taken up. However, the much talked-about Food Security Bill and Lokpal Bill were missing from the agenda as the government unwrapped its planned business for the session.

Apart from the presentation of the general budget and the railway budget,

the important bills to be introduced during the session include:

* The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill: The woman’s reservation bill, which provides 33 percent reservation for women in parliament and the state assemblies, was passed by the Rajya Sabha last year amidst strong opposition from several regional parties, including the Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal which extend outside support to government. It is now listed for being presented in the Lok Sabha.

* The Bio-Technology Regulatory Authority of India Bill: The bill aims at creation of a single window for clearing all GM foods and crops by creating a regulatory authority with overarching powers over state governments and existing laws.

* National Council for Higher Education and Research Bill: The bill seeks creating an umbrella body overarching all present bodies looking after higher education, including the University Grants Commission, the All India Council for Technical Education and other similar bodies.

* National Commission for Human Resources for Health Bill: The bill aims at forming a body to oversee all branches of medical education, including nursing, physiotherapy and other allied fields, taking over from the Medical Council of India and other similar bodies.

* Universities for Innovation Bill: The bill will prepare the ground for the creation of innovation universities. These universities will have to establish a University Endowment Fund but will have the freedom to receive donations, contributions from alumni and other income as long as 80 percent of the annual inflow is used for the development of research infrastructure.

* Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill: Bringing sexual offences against children under legal purview for the first time, the bill defines such offenses against children, punishment for the offences, procedures for recording statements of victims, designation of special courts and procedures and powers of such courts.

* Communal Violence Bill: The bill was being brought in view of the National Advisory Council headed by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi suggesting comprehensive measures against such violence. Official amendments could be brought during its passage.

* The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill: The bill seeks to amend the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. It has been delayed due to opposition from ally Trinamool Congress.

Among the economic bills, the government proposes to introduce a constitutional amendment bill to pave the way for introduction of the long-awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.

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