With demands for passage of the juvenile justice bill -- that seeks to treat juveniles between 16 to 18 years as adults for committing heinous crimes such as rape – intensifying both inside and outside Parliament, the Rajya Sabha on Monday decided to take up the legislation for discussion on Tuesday.
The bill has been languishing in the Upper House since the budget session.
The decision comes against the backdrop of the Supreme Court on Monday rejecting the plea against release of the ‘juvenile’ offender in December 2012 gang rape case.
Though members cutting across political divide batted for expeditious passage, there is still a lot of uncertainty over whether the bill, which has some contentious provisions, would be cleared in the remaining two days of the winter session.
Congress sources said the party is divided on the JJ bill as a section is keen on its early passage keeping in mind the “huge public sentiment” in its favour while some leaders argue that the proposed legislation has some “several flaws” and hence should be referred to a select committee.
Earlier, at the all-party meeting on Friday, the government and the Opposition had agreed to refer the bill to a Rajya Sabha Select Committee.
When the Rajya Sabha convened on Monday, Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien said he has given a notice under rule 267 seeking suspension of business and taking up the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2014. The TMC leader said the government has not even listed the juvenile bill for discussion and passing. “It is incumbent upon the House to listen to what is going on outside. It is not a perfect bill but let us list it and pass the bill,” he said.
Good bill.Very good bill.Ideal bill. #juvenilejustice Bill a good bill. Let's debate/pass it rather than wait indefinitely for an ideal Bill— Derek O'Brien (@quizderek) December 22, 2015
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the bill was listed on December 8, 10 and 11. “We have listed it for tomorrow,” he said, adding “if all agree the bill can be taken up for discussion today itself.” At this, leader of the opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the bill is not listed for the day even though the Congress had at all-party meeting last week agreed to its passage.
Outside Parliament, IT minister Ravishankar Prasad targeted Congress. “The bill has been thrice listed in the past for consideration and passage in Rajya Sabha. But the House has not been able to run,” he said.
SP leader Ramgopal Yadav blamed “politics” for the delay in the passage of the bill. On Monday, when the matter come up in the House, Parliamentary Affairs Minister, M Venkaiah Naidu stood up and said the government is ready to discuss the bill today by brining it in an additional agenda. However, with the opposition not relenting, the government decided to take up the bill on Tuesday.
Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said if the government thinks “it (the Bill) is that important, you should have listed it” and asked why the legislation was not listed in today’s business. Naidu said the Juvenile Bill was listed in the busines on December 8, 10 and 11, but the House did not function then.