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Curtailed budget session ends for assembly elections

Friday March 25, 2011 09:07:06 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Parliament's budget session, the shortest in recent history, ended Friday after witnessing bitter discussions over alleged graft scams but scored low on legislative business.

The budget session - originally scheduled to be held in two parts, Feb 21 to March 16 and then from April 5 to April 21, with a recess in between -- had to be cut short due to the April-May elections in four states and a union territory.

According to PRS Legislative Research, the budget session was the shortest in the last two decades in a non-election year.

"Both Houses sat for a total of 23 days. This Budget Session recorded the lowest number of sittings in a non-election year in the last two decades," the research organisation said in an analysis of the session.

The session saw animated debates and raucous scenes over allegations of corruption against the government on the 2G spectrum allotment to mobile operators, Devas-ISRO deal and the WikiLeaks cables.

A highlight of the five-week long session was the formation of the Joint Parliamentary Committee to probe the 2G spectrum scam - a contentious issue that led to the previous winter session being washed away due to opposition protests.

Parliament passed the 2011-12 budget and seven new legislations, excluding finance and appropriation bills, in either of the houses, according to data by PRS Legislative Research.

The government had, however, planned to get approved 34 new legislations, including the finance bill, during the session.

In addition to the finance bill, the legislations passed during the session include a bill to make a minor correction - rectifying a clerical error - in the transfer of foreign prisoners act. The phrase "martial law" was replaced with "military law" in the act.

Other bills passed include one providing for the merger of the State Bank of Indore with the State Bank of India and one to extend the moratorium on sealing of unauthorised buildings in Delhi. The Lok Sabha on the last day of the session passed a bill prohibiting melting or destruction of coins.

The government had also planned to introduce 32 bills in the session, including the controversial woman's reservation bill, the bill suggesting comprehensive measures against communal violence and the land acquisition amendment bill.

Only 11 bills could be introduced in either house, among them the pension regulatory authority bill.

In the economic segment, the government had proposed to introduce a constitutional amendment bill to pave the way for the introduction of the long-awaited Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.

"The list of bills not introduced yet is a long one, and includes bills to set up regulators for biotechnology, higher education, medical education, mines and minerals, amendments to the land acquisition act, and one to provide for rehabilitation and resettlement of people displaced on account of land acquisition," the PRS said, pointing towards the dismal legislative performance of the budget session.

But Speaker Meira Kumar was satisfied with the parliament business.

"Considering the unfortunate logjam which the house witnessed during the previous session, the successful transaction of the business of the house in this session is a matter of satisfaction," she said in her valedictory address, before adjourning the Lok Sabha sine die.

Quoting rules, Meira Kumar justified cutting the session short which led to the government's proposed expenditure being passed without being scrutinised by the concerned standing committees.

In the Rajya Sabha, Chairman Hamid Ansari in his valedictory remarks at the end of the budget session said the decision to shift question hour from morning to post-lunch period had been taken to optimize its output and to provide members regular opportunity to raise matters of concern.

Ansari had announced shifting of question hour to the post-lunch period March 4.

The session witnessed one of the highest confrontations between the government and the opposition over the alleged bribing of MPs during the 2008 trust vote exposed by WikiLeaks and published by The Hindu.

The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs Friday recommended that the session should be prorogued, which rules out the possibility of having an extended budget session in May as was being discussed earlier.









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(Photo: Mukesh Kumar)



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