Odisha govt moves amendments to University and Factories Act as assembly session starts
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik took part in the proceedings through video-conference from Naveen Niwas while a few MLAs including BJP leader Bishnu Sethi attended it from their respective district headquarters through V-C mode.Updated: Sep 30, 2020, 02:15 IST
The monsoon session of the Odisha Assembly began on Tuesday with the Naveen Patnaik government bringing in 7 Bills including the amendment Bill allowing companies with up to 300 workers to sack people or close down units without government approval and another Bill allowing greater government control on state universities.
With one-third of the 147 MLAs including deputy Speaker Rajani Kant Singh infected by Covid-19, less than 100 MLAs attended the Assembly as they sat away from each other with clear plastic boards separating them. While chief minister Naveen Patnaik took part in the proceedings through video-conference from Naveen Niwas, a few MLAs including BJP leader Bishnu Sethi attended it from their respective district headquarters through V-C mode. The first half of the session was adjourned after obituary references to former President Pranab Mukherjee, several sitting and former MLAs, Indian Army soldiers and policemen.
Labour minister Sushant Singh moved the Industrial Disputes (Odisha Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeking to amend the Industrial Disputes Act for allowing companies with upto 300 workers now to sack employees without seeking the prior approval of the government. The old Act had the provision for companies with employee strength of 100 or less.
The state government said the Act has been brought to facilitate investment, generation of employment and counter the hardships caused to MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) due to the Covid-19 pandemic by way of creating a more conducive and business friendly atmosphere. The Act once passed by the Assembly would be applicable retrospectively to all industrial units from July 16 this year.
In May this year, the state government had increased the overtime limit from 75 hours per quarter earlier to 115 hours quarter while allowing engagement of women in factories with their consent between 6 am and 7 pm.
The second most important Bill to be moved today was the Odisha Universities (Amendment) Bill 2020 that saw Congress MLA Tara Prasad Bahinipati tearing up a copy of the Bill protesting government control on the working of the state universities. “It’s a Black Bill. It should be sent to Select Committee of the House for consideration,” he demanded.
The Odisha Universities (Amendment) Bill 2020 seeks to amend Odisha Universities Act, 1989 and repeal the Ravenshaw University Act, 2005 which led to the formation of the Ravens haw University as well as other unitary universities like Gangadhar Meher University and Khallikote University. It also seeks to abolish the system of Senate in universities terming it as an ornamental body and restructure the Syndicate for smooth academic and administrative functioning of the Universities.
The Bill seeks to hike the tenure of Vice Chancellor from 3 to 4 years and the upper age limit to 67 years from 65 years. It also seeks to have an eminent academician, nominated by the state government as a member of the search committee for appointment of V-C in place of the nominee of the Syndicate of the University.
The Bill also proposed that Odisha Public Service Commission would now do the recruitment of teaching and non-teaching staff of the universities instead of the universities themselves. Moving the Bill, higher education minister Arun Sahoo said the amendment Bill would make the universities function in a better and more professional way.
Opposing the Bill, Congress leader Narasingha Mishra asked why the state government was in a hurry to pass the Odisha Universities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 in this pandemic situation. “Will the Covid-19 cease to spread if the Bill gets passed? This bill will end the autonomy of Universities in the state,” he said.