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17 Days, 21 Bills: Parliament Prepares To Open For A Stormy Monsoon Session

The upbeat Opposition is prepared to challenge three of the Bills listed by the Centre. It will also raise pressing issues including the Uniform Civil Code, Manipur violence, inflation, unemployment, the Balasore train accident as well as the Delhi ordinance row.

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New Parliament building
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As a clamour grows on the NDA vs I-N-D-I-A debate, the Monsoon Session of the Parliament is all set to begin on Thursday and go on for 17 working days till August 11. While it will commence in the old Parliament building, parliamentarians are expected to move to the new building midway where it is expected to conclude. The Narendra Modi government is likely to use the floor to highlight the Prime Minister’s successful foreign visits. 

The upbeat Opposition, on the other hand, is prepared to challenge three of the Bills listed by the Centre and raise pressing issues including the Uniform Civil Code, Manipur violence, inflation, unemployment, the safety of railways in the wake of the Balasore train accident as well as the Delhi ordinance row, among other issues. Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification is also expected to come up in the discussions.

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The Monsoon Session of the Parliament is expected to consist of 15 sittings. Given the recent history of stormy sessions, however, it will be interesting to see if this one lasts any longer than the previous ones.

Outlook takes a look at what is expected in this Monsoon session of Parliament.

Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022

One of the most-talked-about bills for the upcoming session, this Bill aims to replace the existing Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules. The data protection bill, part of the Centre’s vision of ‘Digital India’, has had a controversy-ridden history in Parliament.

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The draft of the bill says that it aims at “framing out the rights and duties of the citizen (Digital Nagrik) on the one hand and the obligations to use collected data lawfully of the Data Fiduciary on the other hand”. However, there is no clarity on privacy protection. 

Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023

Another significant bill, which is also ridden in debate and controversy is the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill of 2023, which seeks to replace the Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980. The new bill seeks to exempt certain categories of land from the purview of the Act, for instance, the land within 100 km of India’s border, which the government aims to utilise for national security projects and other non-forestry amenities.

According to a report by The Hindu, at least six Opposition members have filed dissent notes on the bill. These include Congress MPs Pradyot Bordoloi and Phulo Devi Netam, Trinamool Congress MPs Jawahar Sircar and Sajda Ahmed, and DMK MPs T.R. Baalu and R. Girirajan.

The Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023

The amendment to the Jan Vishwas bill seeks to decriminalise minor offences by amending 183 provisions in 42 Acts with a view to promote ease of business. It amends 42 laws, across multiple sectors, including agriculture, environment, and media and publication.
It also envisages converting fines into penalties and removes imprisonment as punishment for many offences under the Post Office Act of 1998.

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Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021

The Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill has received clearance from the Joint Committee of Parliament and will be tabled in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha in the upcoming session. It proposes to amend the existing Biological Diversity Act of 2002, which has its roots in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to ‘enhance’ biodiversity conservation.

However, many stakeholders have opposed it as they fear several loopholes in the law can be misused and defeat its original purpose.

Bill to replace Delhi Ordinance

One of the most heated discussions in the upcoming Parliament session will be around the contentious Delhi ordinance, in which opposition parties, including the Congress, have voiced their support for the Aam Aadmi Party as it prepares to oppose the bill. The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2023 takes over the control of Delhi’s administrative services, the hiring and transfers of the employees. 

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The authority used to be with the Delhi government. Voting on the NCT Bill will also be a test of the newly forged Opposition unity.

Other Bills And Discussions

Apart from these, the Centre is also expected to table Multi-State Co-operative Societies (Amendment) Bill, 2022; Mediation Bill, 2021; Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Fifth Amendment) Bill, 2022; The National Research Foundation Bill, 2023; and Repealing and Amending Bill, 2022, among others.

Uniform Civil Code

Notably, the Parliament is meeting amid Prime Minister Modi’s strong pitch for a Uniform Civil Code and amid moves to step up consultations on the issue. Several opposition parties have demanded that the Centre discusses the proposed UCC in the monsoon session.

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Rahul Gandhi Disqualification

Another issue that may be brought up by Congress is former party president Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification. Gandhi was barred as a Member of Parliament on March 24 after a Gujarat court convicted and sentenced him to two years in jail on charges of criminal defamation for his Modi surname remarks.

Manipur Violence

The Opposition is also expected to bring up the situation in BJP-ruled Manipur, where violent clashes between two communities have been witnessed since May 3. Opposition parties are expected to question PM Modi’s silence over the issue that has lasted more than two months.

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