Even as there is no clarity as to when the upcoming Monsoon Session of Parliament will convene, top government sources have told CNN-News18 the government is very keen on a full session and not a curtailed one. Several key legislation have been listed including 11 Ordinances, which if not passed will expire soon.
An ordinance lapses if not passed within six months of its promulgation.
Here is the list of Ordinances that needs to be passed and is on the Centre's priority list:
- The Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Ordinance 2020, promulgated by the President on April 9. This allowed a salary cut of 30% for the Prime Minister and his entire Council of Ministers for a year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Salaries, Allowances and Pensions of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, promulgated on April 7. The Union Cabinet had approved a 30% cut in the salaries of all MPs and a two-year suspension of the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme so that the amount saved can go to the Consolidated Fund of India to fight Covid-19.
- The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 promulgated on April 22. This provides protection to frontline warriors against physical attacks on doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, and violence has now been made a non-bailable offence punishable by up to seven years in prison.
- The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, promulgated on June 5. This allowed commodities such as edible oils, cereals, onions, pulses, and potatoes to be deregulated.
- The Farmers Produce Trade And Commerce (Promotion And Facilitation) Ordinance, 2020, promulgated on June 5. This promotes a barrier-free inter-state and intra-state commerce and trade outside the physical premises of markets notified under State Agricultural Produce marketing legislation.
- The Farmers (Empowerment And Protection) Agreement On Price Assurance And Farm Services Ordinance, 2020, promulgated on June 5. This allowed farmers to engage with aggregators, processors, large retailers, wholesalers, and exporters on a level playing field without any fear of exploitation.
- The Homeopathy Central Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, promulgated on April 24.
- The Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, promulgated on April 24.
- The Taxation And Other Laws (Relaxation Of Certain Provisions) Ordinance, 2020, promulgated March 31.
- The Insolvency And Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, promulgated on June 6.
- The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance promulgated on June 26.
Of these, at least six will lapse if not passed in the Monsoon Session since the winter session will take place in December.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi and Ministers of State Arjun Ram Meghwal and V Muraleedharan have been holding meetings over the last couple of days with both Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker OP Birla over video conference to finalise the modalities of how the session can be held.
"We will follow the due procedure as laid down by the Constitution. We are committed to call for a session well in time before the six month-lapse deadline," Joshi told CNN-News18.
Leader of Congress Adhir Chowdhary said that the Parliament is the essence of Indian democracy. "We are with the government to call for a session. Unfortunately the opposition is not kept in the loop for anything," he said. "Of course, legislation passage is the key but the government must hold discussions on a number of pressing issues like the China face-off and Covid-19 management during the course of this upcoming Monsoon Session."
Senior party leader and Rajya Sabha floor leader of Trinamool Congress Derek O'Brien said, "So far we have got no communication from the government. No prizes for guessing that only two people in the government know what's happening, it is just a two-person decision."
The meeting of the Cabinet Committee for Parliamentary Affairs, which will approve the actual dates of the session, is still to take place. Meanwhile, both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Secratariat officials are chalking out detailed plans.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee meetings are a dress rehearsal for the upcoming Session. A hurdle of sort happened when an officer in the PAC meeting tested positive a couple of days later, forcing several MPs to isolate themselves.
Speculation has been rife that the Monsoon Session may take place at the end of August or early in September. The seating arrangement of MPs is being worked out by the Secretariat officers of both Houses. Minimum presence of both MPs and ministerial staff and restricted media entry is likely to be the new normal for the upcoming session.