Opposition in Rajya Sabha forces deferment of Mines bill till Friday

Opposition on Thursday forced deferment of consideration of the contentious Mines and Minerals Bill in Rajya Sabha till tomorrow, arguing that mineral-bearing states had not been consulted.

New Delhi: Opposition on Thursday forced deferment of consideration of the contentious Mines and Minerals Bill in Rajya Sabha till tomorrow, arguing that mineral-bearing states had not been consulted.

The House saw four adjournments of brief spells in quick succession after members from Congress and Left, opposing taking up of discussion on Mines and Minerals Bill, created uproar.

The House was also slated to take up Coal bill which also has been deferred till tomorrow.

Congress members even stormed the Well of the House amid demands that the Mines and Minerals Bill be again sent to the Select Committee which already scrutised the proposed legislation and presented its report to the House only yesterday.

After the adjournments totalling 50 minutes, an agreement was reached between the treasury and opposition benches that the bill will be taken up tomorrow.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said if the House fails to take up the bills tomorrow, the last day of the first part of the Budget session, the session will have to be extended.

He asked members to understand the difficulties of the government and told them that if some amendments are made in the bill, it will have to go back to Lok Sabha.

Later, he told Lok Sabha also that the House may have to consider the bills tomorrow. If the bills are not cleared tomorrow, they will be taken upon on Monday after extending the session.

Earlier, the Rajya Sabha saw a battle of wits over rules between the treasury benches and the opposition with both sides fielding noted advocates.

P Rajeeve (CPI-M) was trying to move a motion seeking re-sending of the bill to the Select Committee on the ground that mineral-bearing states were not consulted and the spirit of democracy and federalism was not followed since mines and minerals are under state subject.

Despite repeated requests by the government that the Opposition should cooperate, discuss and decide the crucial measure, the Congress members trooped into the well shouting slogans that the "dictatorship of BJP" will not be allowed.

"If you want to oppose, oppose the bill. Why are you obstructing? As a responsible party, you should not do it. It is unbecoming of you," Deputy Chairman P J Kurien told the opposition members who were shouting slogans.

Quoting rules, Rajeeve said the basic principle of democracy was not adhered to by the Select Committee by not consulting any mineral-bearing state on the subject and hence it should be sent back to it again.

Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, an acclaimed lawyer, as well as Naidu rose to counter the argument that sparked off a fierce debate on the legislative competence of the Rajya Sabha to refer a bill, that had originated in Lok Sabha, twice to a select committee.

Noting that the Mines and Minerals bill has not originated in Rajya Sabha but only referred to it from the Lok Sabha after passage, Jaitley said," Rajya Sabha has the wisdom to question Lok Sabha once and not twice."

He also told Rajeeve that he was not referring to the right rule. "What you have done is that you have actually come out with a cocktail," he said.

However, Opposition members Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Anand Sharma (Deputy Leader of Congress and a senior lawyer, Ashwani Kumar, a former law minister, vociferously countered Jaitley's contentions saying the point raised by Rajeeve is valid.

They contended that even if a bill which has originated in Lok Sabha and referred to Rajya Sabha can be sent back twice to the select committee.

"There is a logical inconsistency in the answer," Yechury told Jaitley.

Noted lawyer and nominated member KTS Tulsi also said that the motion by Rajeeve is "clearly in order".

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