Parliament today reconvened for a new session.

The first part of Budget Session was adjourned on March 16
to meet again on April 25. However, the session was formally closed at the end
of March, to enable the passage of the Uttarakhand Budget through an executive
order. This was necessary as President’s Rule was imposed in the state.

Rajya Sabha today could not take scheduled business due to
continued protests by the opposition regarding the imposition of President’s
rule in Uttarakhand.

Lok Sabha passed the Sikh Gurdwaras (Amendment) Bill. The
Bill seeks to amend the Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1925. The Act regulates
administration of Sikh Gurdwaras in Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and
Punjab.

The Act provides that every Sikh who is above 21 years of
age and is registered as a voter, will be entitled to vote in the elections to
the SGPC (Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee) and management committees. 
However, no person who trims or shaves his beard or hair will be
entitled to vote in these elections.  The
Act creates an exception for Sehjdhari Sikhs who trim or shave their beard or
hair, and allows them to vote.  The Bill
removes this exception, disentitling Sehjdhari Sikhs from voting if they carry
out these activities.

The Regional Center for Biotechnology Bill was also passed
by the Lower House.  

The Bill gives effect to the agreement entered into by the
central government with UNESCO in 2006 to establish the Regional Centre of Biotechnology
in Faridabad, Haryana.  It also confers
upon it the status of an institution of national importance.  An institution of national importance is an
institute which imparts scientific or technical education, and is empowered to
grant degrees.

During
the debate, while supporting the Bill, members  pointed out the need
for better infrastructure in the biotechnology sector alongside an
adequate regulatory framework.

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