A one-day special session on May 13 to mark the 60th anniversary of its first sitting, the sudden emergence and rejection of the idea of a new building for both Houses, a suggestion to provide the same facilities to former speakers as enjoyed by former vice-presidents, and a parliamentary seal of approval for introducing FDI in retail — 2012 was an eventful year for Parliament.
In 2013, among the bills Parliament will have to deal with is one that was held up at the end of the previous year. The government had brought in the Constitution (117th Amendment) Bill, 2012, providing for reservation in promotion to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes with retrospective effect, under pressure from BSP chief Mayawati, who made an unusual verbal attack on Rajya Sabha chairman Mohammad Hamid Ansari in the process. Ultimately, the Rajya Sabha voted for the measure. The script changed in the Lok Sabha with the bill hitting a roadblock as the Samajwadi and the BJP blocked proceedings.
The bill can be taken up afresh, even at the earliest, only in the second leg of the budget session, the first being meant for discussion and passing the motion of thanks for the presidential address and disposing of financial business. The issue has the potential to cause deep divides within the Congress and the BJP. Some feel it may meet the same fate as the the Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008, better known as the women’s reservation bill, providing for reservation of 33 per cent seats for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.
Also coming up is the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill. The RS select committee submitted its report on November 23. There is no doubt the Bill was hurriedly brought in last year due to pressure from the erstwhile Team Anna. The pressure has since eased and the political class has lost interest in the issue.
Done with the FDI and the Banking Laws (Amendment) bills, the government has to move ahead with other bills aimed at financial reforms. These include the Pension Fund Regulatory and the Development Authority Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 24, 2011.
The recent gangrape in Delhi, which has evoked nation-wide protests, has served as a wake-up call for undertaking drastic measures for the protection of women against sexual assault. Parliament may feel called upon to address the issue by providing for an expeditious time-bound trial of