In Rajya Sabha minority, UPA defers education Bill

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Sep 1 2010, 05:51am hrs
The government on Tuesday faced embarrassment in Rajya Sabha after it was forced to defer a key education reforms Bill following strong opposition from members cutting across party lines.

Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal beat a retreat after the Education Tribunal Bill, 2010 came under attack from all sides, including Congress leader K Keshava Rao.

The Bill, seeking to create a mechanism for providing speedy resolution of disputes pertaining to higher education institutions, was passed by Lok Sabha on August 26. The UPA does not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha.

Considering the sentiments of honourable members of this House, I request that the consideration of the Bill be deferred to the next session, Sibal said.

But he disagreed with the apprehensions expressed by the Opposition: We are not in any way infringing upon the rights of the states. It is a significant piece of legislation and if members want a larger debate, we have no problem.

The decision to defer the Bill followed an uproar over Sibals observation that he was ready to bow down if there was any substance in the opposition.

BJP and BSP members were on their feet, demanding that Sibal withdraw the remarks.

Congress leader Keshava Rao, who earlier said that this kind of hasty legislation does not augur well, later said he was not opposed to the Bill. I supported the Bill, he said, welcoming the reformist approach of the minister.

Defending the Bill earlier, Sibal said the governmentwas doing something that was required and had taken into consideration the recommendations of the standing committee. I believe some of the standing committee recommendations will be taken care of through rules. He said there was not a single note of dissent from any state or any stakeholder to the Bill and the four non-Congress ruled statesChhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Keralahave sent formal letters of support.

It is not that we are in hurry. We are too late. The Bill is the need of the hour and is a fast-track mechanism to deliver justice, Sibal said.

To Opposition criticism of provisions in the Bill to appoint retired members of the judiciary in the tribunal, Sibal said it would be difficult to get young people mid-career.

Rao took strong objection to the ministry rejecting the report of the Standing Committee of Parliament. Describing the committee as a mini-Parliament, Rao said if the report of such a panel is rejected and the House is not even told, it is unacceptable.

Standing committee did talk about 20 to 22 subjects, which you said you do not agree, Rao said, adding that the committee is not to indulge in fashion dialogue or talks for talks sake... let every minister sitting in the House first start respecting the Standing Committee, he said.

This kind of hasty legislation for a subject like education does not augur well... his (Sibals) thoughts run faster than the deeds of his ministry, Rao said.