Parliament wound up business on Tuesday as a divided House and passed eight laws, including one to give the victims of crime a voice and compensation, in 17 minutes flat.
All the eight legislative proposals were passed without a discussion in the Lok Sabha.
On an average, it took the House, a little over two minutes to go through the formalities of putting the Bills to vote and announcing their passage as the BJP and Left members stood in the well protesting.
The BJP was criticising the government for letting its Minority Affairs Minister A.R. Antulay off the hook. The Left, on the other hand, wanted the scheduled motion on lay-offs and wage cuts to be discussed. But they, too, joined in the protests — and later walked out — once they realised that the government was intent on completing the legislative business.
“This is not a good sign for democracy… This has never happened in Parliament’s history,” CPI (M) leader Basudev Acharia later said, complaining many of them were important bills.
Among the Bills that were passed in the Lok Sabha were proposals to set up India’s first international university, South Asian University, amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code and give collection of statistics on economic, demographic and social aspects a legislative backing. But judges of the Supreme Court and high court will have to wait for salary hike. The legislation couldn’t be taken up due to the absence of Law Minister H.R. Bharadwaj.
The House of Elders did not fare any better. Rajya Sabha, too, passed the Information Technology (Amendment) Bill amid pandemonium in about two-three minutes. It provides for a jail term — upto a maximum of 10 years — for suspects convicted of cyber terrorism and five years for publishing or transmitting obscene material. The Lok Sabha passed it on Monday without a discussion.
According to the PRS Legislative Research, an independent body, in 2007, nearly 40 per cent of laws were passed by the Lok Sabha with little or no discussion, a significant increase over 17 per cent of the Bills passed with almost no discussion in 2005.