Criminal codes among key bills likely to be taken up in Parliament's winter session
The winter session, or the last full session of the government before the 2024 general elections, is scheduled from December 4 to 22
The central government is likely to push through key legislation, including the three criminal codes and a bill on appointing election commissioners, in the winter session of Parliament, which would effectively be the last chance for it to advance its legislative agenda.
The winter session, or the last full session of the government before the 2024 general elections, is scheduled from December 4 to 22. The government will also get a truncated budget session early next year, but is unlikely to take up any substantial legislative business except approving the interim budget before the election.
There are 37 bills pending before Parliament, including some from 1992, 1997 and 2001. While the passage of these draft laws is unlikely to take place in the remaining sessions, officials said that the deck are clear for the passage of the three criminal codes that will replace the Indian Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure and the Evidence Act.
The Bharat Nyaya Sanhita, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita and Bharatiya Sakshya Bill have been reviewed by the standing committee on home affairs and the reports would be tabled in the winter session.
The reports on the three draft legislation, according to the opposition, have been prepared and adopted hastily. The government disagrees. “The bills have been discussed at length. A number of suggestions have been given to the government to modify some parts of the bills,” a functionary of the ruling side said, declining to be named. “Now, it is up to the government when it wants to bring the bills for passage.”
“The government has informally indicated to various stakeholders that the bills would come up for consideration and passing in the winter session,” another official said, seeking anonymity. “These bills are important for the people and the top authorities want the bills to be passed before the election.”
Pushing for the bills in the Lok Sabha, home minister Amit Shah had argued that “the colonial-era laws were created to punish people. Indian laws are aimed to give justice to the people.”
The Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023, is another draft legislation that might be pushed through by the government in the winter session. The new bill says a selection committee will recommend names for the election commissioners to the President. The panel will have the Prime Minister, a Union cabinet minister and the leader of opposition or the leader of the largest opposition party in Lok Sabha as members.
The opposition is set to oppose both the criminal codes as well as the election commissioner bill. All opposition members have given dissent notes to the home standing committee’s report on the draft laws.
The opposition is set to express reservations to brining some provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and other the anti-terror laws in the Bharatiya Nyay Sanhita and also object to additional power to magistrates to order finger impressions and voice samples from a person who has not been arrested.
While the winter session has been cut short by a week (it usually starts by the third week of November) due to state elections, parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi announced earlier this month that the session will commence from December 4 and continue till December 15, and will have 15 sittings spread over 19 days.
“The government never consults with the opposition on its legislative agenda. They didn’t tell us about the women reservation bill even as it was our demand and all opposition parties supported the bill,” said Derek O’Brien, Rajya Sabha floor leader of the Trinamool’ Congress party. “In the winter session, too, they will bring bills unannounced.”