Parliament session begins Monday; JPC announcement likely Wednesday

Sunday, February 20, 2011

NEW DELHI - It’s expected to be smooth sailing during the six-week-long budget session of parliament that begins Monday with President Pratibha Patil’s address to a joint sitting of the two houses at 11 a.m., unlike the washed out winter session.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and leaders of various parties have expressed optimism that the session will be peaceful.

“I am optimistic. I am sure the leaders of various parties will agree on a smooth conduct of the parliament,” Kumar told IANS.

The government is learnt to have agreed to the demand of the opposition parties for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scandal, though the formal announcement may be made in the house only Wednesday.

Persistent opposition protests demanding the JPC had disrupted the winter session almost fully.

Financial business - presentation, discussion and passage of the railway budget and general budget - is the major agenda of the coming session.

The session will continue till April 21, with an 18-day recess from March 17 to April 2. The first part of the session will have 17 sittings while the second part will have 12 sittings.

The railway budget will be presented at 12 noon Feb 25, just after the question hour. The economic survey will be also tabled the same day.

The general budget will be presented at 11 a.m. Feb 28.

Sixty-six bills are scheduled for the session - 32 bills for introduction, 31 for consideration and passing and three for introduction, consideration and passing.

Among those for consideration and passage include the Women’s Reservation Bill (already passed by Rajya Sabha), the Communal Violence Prevention Bill, the Seeds Bill, the Educational Tribunals Bill, the Anti-hijacking Bill and the Copyright (Amendment)Bill.

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, the Land Acquisition Bill, the Equal Opportunity Commission Bill, the Press and Registration of Books and Publications Bill and the National Council for Higher Education and Research Bill are among the legislations listed for introduction.

The three bills for introduction, consideration and passing are - the Finance Bill, the Labour Laws and the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws.

The financial business will include the discussion and voting on demands for grants, both for the railways and the general account for the next fiscal and supplementary grants for the current year.

There will be discussion and voting on the motion of thanks on the President’s address too.

In all, 75 items have been listed in the budget session’s agenda, which includes 66 bills, eight financial items and the motion of thanks to the president’s address.

Persistent protests by the opposition to demand JPC formation disrupted legislative business in all but the inaugural day of the 23-day winter session in November-December last.

Legislative researchers say the national exchequer suffered a loss of Rs.171 crore because of the disruption of both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha during the winter session.

Both the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the opposition party leaders have been saying that they were keen that parliament functions normally during the budget session.

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