The Winter Session of Parliament begins from 24th November and ends on December 23rd. It will consist of 22 sittings.
· There are 67 Bills currently pending before Parliament. Of these 9 Bills were introduced in the previous Session of Parliament, while 40 of these were introduced in the 15th Lok Sabha, which was the regime of the UPA II Government. 18 other Bills are pending from earlier Lok Sabhas.
· The government has promulgated two ordinances in the last few months. These were the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 2014 and the Textile Undertakings (Nationalisation) Laws (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2014. Bills to replace both these ordinances will have to be brought in this Session of Parliament to ensure that they do not lapse.
· Of the Bills pending, 11 are related to Health and Family Welfare. This includes the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2013, the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill, 2013, the HIV (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014.
· There are 9 Bills related to Labour and Employment. These include the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014, and the Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2014, both of which were introduced in the last session. The Apprentices Bill has already been passed by Lok Sabha. There are also older Bills, such as the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Bill, 2012, and the Building and Other Construction Workers Related Laws Bill, 2013, which are still pending.
· A number of pending Bills are still being considered by Standing Committees. These include the Rights of Persons of Disabilities Bill, 2014, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014, the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014, the Railways (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and the Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (Conditions of Service) Bill, 2014. Whether the Committee reports on these Bills will come in time for these Bills to be taken up for consideration and passing during the Winter Session remains to be seen.
· The Insurance (Laws) Amendment Bill, 2008, which allows foreign investors to hold up to 49% of the capital in an Indian insurance company, is currently being considered by a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha. The report is due in the Winter Session of Parliament after which the Bill can be moved for consideration and passing.
· Two Bills have been cleared by the Cabinet in the last three months. These are the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and School of Planning and Architecture Bill, 2014. There are also a number of draft Bills on which Ministries have held pre-legislative consultation. These include the Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill, 2014, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2014, amendments to the Citizenship Act,1955, and the Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014.
· Starting with the Winter Session, the Rajya Sabha has decided to shift its Question Hour from 11 am to noon, and has also extended its sitting time by an hour. This change can be seen in light of the performance of Question Hour in the 2014 Budget Session, where the Question Hour functioned for 87% of its scheduled time in Lok Sabha, but only for 40% of its scheduled time in Rajya Sabha. Rajya Sabha had tried to address this problem in 2011, when Question Hour was shifted to be held from 2 pm to 3 pm, but this was discontinued within a few days.
An official statement on the legislative agenda for this Parliamentary Session is still awaited.