Rajya Sabha Passes 3 New Criminal Bills, Closes Winter Session: 10 Points

Over the past two weeks Parliament has suspended 97 opposition MPs from the Lok Sabha and 46 from the Rajya Sabha for "unruly conduct".

Rajya Sabha Passes 3 New Criminal Bills, Closes Winter Session: 10 Points

The Winter Session of Parliament began December 4, a day after four state polls were declared (File).

New Delhi: Parliament adjourned Thursday night - a day early - after a tumultuous fortnight that saw a security scare, 146 opposition MPs suspended, and the passage of four contentious bills, including three overhauling the criminal jurisprudence system.

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

  1. Nine bills were passed this session and await President Droupadi Murmu's assent - a formality for the ruling BJP - to become law. Apart from the criminal law bills, one gave the government the right to take over telecom network and another gave it complete control over the Election Commission, which oversees general and state polls.

  2. Seven of the nine, including the telecom bill, galloped past a mostly empty Parliament. The telecom bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday - by which time 95 of over 140 opposition MPs had been ejected - and cleared the Rajya Sabha, from which 46 were suspended, a day later. The others were an amendment to the Central Goods and Services Tax Bill, income tax refunds, and protection to unauthorised buildings in Delhi.

  3. The three criminal laws bills cleared Lok Sabha Wednesday without a challenge and cantered past the Rajya Sabha late Thursday night. They have been fiercely criticised by the opposition, particularly for its broader definition of terrorism.

  4. Amendments to two Jammu and Kashmir bills were also cleared this session; by the Lok Sabha last Tuesday and Rajya Sabha on Monday. One reserves a third of Assembly seats (in J&K and Puducherry) for women, and the other nominates two members of the Kashmiri migrant community and one from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to the J&K House.

  5. The last full sitting before the 2024 poll was marked by more than the usual protests by the opposition, which spent the past seven days demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP be held accountable for the December 13 security breach.

  6. Parliament suspended 97 opposition MPs from the Lok Sabha and 46 from the Rajya Sabha for "unruly conduct". This is roughly two-third of all opposition lawmakers, but excludes those from parties that sometimes offer the BJP external support.

  7. Ahead of today's session, the suspended MPs took out a protest march carrying a large "Save Democracy" banner, and placards that asked "Is This The End of Democracy?" There was also controversy over a Trinamool MP's "mimicry" of Jagdeep Dhankhar, the Rajya Sabha Chair and Vice President, with the BJP launching a fierce counterattack.

  8. The suspensions followed vociferous protests on the security breach issue, with senior opposition figures pointing out that while the Prime Minister and Home Minister Amit Shah had refused to speak in Parliament, they had both discussed this incident with the press.

  9. Earlier this week the Prime Minister, in his first public comment on the security breach, called it a "very serious" but played down its significance, declaring "there is no need to debate this". The government did set up a high-powered committee to review lapses and, as part of that process, external security has been shifted from Delhi Police to the CISF.

  10. The Winter Session of Parliament also saw the government and the opposition clash over the expulsion of Trinamool MP Mahua Moitra over the 'cash-for-query' case. Ms Moitra, who has denied all charges and now faces a CBI inquiry, has moved the Supreme Court.

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