At the beginning of the day, members of the Upper House raised concerns about latest developments that have taken place in diplomatic relations with Pakistan. Members were informed that a statement would be made by the Minister of External Affairs on 10 December after her returns from Islamabad.
While taking up legislative business, it was decided that the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill be referred to a Select Committee of Rajya Sabha for examination. The Bill makes giving of a bribe and offence for individuals and commercial organization, and enlarges the definition of taking a bribe. There are some issues that require consideration which can be found here.
Discussion the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill was initiated in Rajya Sabha. The Bill prohibits the reporting of a corruption related disclosure if it falls under any 10 categories of information. Members of the opposition argued that the Bill be referred to a committee for detailed scrutiny and be passed after taking the House into confidence.
While debating the Bill, several members pointed out that while the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that the 10 prohibited categories are modeled on those under the RTI Act, such a comparison may not be appropriate. Unlike the RTI Act, disclosures under the Bill are not made public but in confidence to a high level constitutional or statutory authority. For more analysis on the Bill you can read our legislative brief here.
Rajya Sabha also took up a discussion on the situation in Nepal and the state of Indo-Nepal relations. The discussion was initiated by Pavan Verma. The Minister of External Affairs replied at the end of the debate.
The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill was passed by the Upper House. The Bill specified territorial jurisdiction of courts for filing cases of cheque bouncing. The Bill has been passed by the Lower House previously.
Four bills were introduced in Lok Sabha. These were the Payment of Bonus (Amendment) Bill, the Industries (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, the Atomic Energy (Amendment) Bill and the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Bill.
The Standing Committee examining the Lokpal and Lokayuktas and other related Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014 submitted its report. The amendment is proposed to provide that the Leader of Opposition recognized as such in the Lok Sabha or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, the leader of the single largest opposition party in that House shall be a Member of the Selection Committee. The Committee is of the view that the amendment is both necessary and appropriate and accordingly recommends it.
The Lower House also took up a discussion on the drought situation in various parts of the country.