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Friday, Dec 06, 2019

28 private members’ bills introduced in Lok Sabha

28 private members’ bills introduced in the current Lok Sabha include some proposing sweeping constitutional changes, such as dropping Article 44 of the Directive Principles that speaks of a Uniform Civil Code.

india Updated: Dec 02, 2019 06:47 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
It requires some luck to get a private members’ bill introduced, as a ballot draw — a sort of lottery — is held to decide which ones get introduced. It’s tougher still to get them passed.
It requires some luck to get a private members’ bill introduced, as a ballot draw — a sort of lottery — is held to decide which ones get introduced. It’s tougher still to get them passed. (HT File)

MPs have moved a raft of private members’ bills in Parliament — including 28 already in the 17th Lok Sabha — proposing radical constitutional reforms and highlighting public concerns that do not otherwise blip on the government’s legislative radar.

Private members’ bills are public bills not on the government’s official agenda, as opposed to bills introduced by ministers, which are referred to as government bills because they are backed by the ruling dispensation and reflect its legislative agenda.

The 28 private members’ bills introduced in the current Lok Sabha include some proposing sweeping constitutional changes, such as dropping Article 44 of the Directive Principles that speaks of a Uniform Civil Code, changes to how India votes, cheaper student loans for the poor, permanent employment for angandwadi or rural child care workers, timely wages to tea gardenhttp hg81808.comworkers, and playing sport as a fundamental right.

It requires some luck to get a private members’ bill introduced, as a ballot draw — a sort of lottery — is held to decide which ones get introduced. It’s tougher still to get them passed.

“In the last 70 years, only 15 private members’ bills have become law,” said Subhash Kashyap, a former secretary-general of the Lok Sabha. But such bills often draw the attention of the government to important issues and seek to create awareness around them. “To that extent, some public purpose is served,” Kashyap said.

There are some private members’ bills, however, that have managed to bring about historic legislation or have seeded them. In 2015, MP Shashi Tharoor’s private member’s bill to decriminalise homosexuality could not be introduced in Lok Sabha after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Nishikant Dubey forced it to voting, which led to the motion being defeated.

The Supreme Court eventually struck down the Indian Penal Code’s Section 377, which made homosexuality a criminal Act, in September 2018.

http hg81808.comUttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath had moved a private members’ bill on the revocation of Article 370, which conferred special status on Jammu and Kashmir, in the 16th Lok Sabha. The 26th Amendment in 1971 to abolish privy purses was likewise triggered by a private members’ bill moved in Rajya Sabha by MPs Bhupesh Gupta of the Communist Party of India, JC Chatterjee of the Congress, Chitta Basu of the Forward Bloc and Banka Behary Das of the Praja Socialist Party.

The Constitution 61st Amendment Act of 1988 lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 for all. It was first introduced by Bhupesh Gupta (CPI), Shiva Chandra Jha (BJP) and Satya Prakash Malviya (Janata Party).

Last May, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) member Supriya Sule moved a bill to ban office emails after work hours, which wasn’t adopted.

Private members’ bills are introduced in either House and go through the same processes as a government bill. Since very less time is allocated to these bills, it unlikely that they will proceed to being passed. Every bill gets three readings, says Kashyap. The first stage is introduction, the second is a clause-by-clause reading, and the third refers to its passage. Even if a private member’s bill doesn’t make it to the second and third reading, it goes on record and members can take credit, Kashyap says.

“Anganwadi workers have no security and work with meager allowance, even though they play a vital role in maternal and children’s nutrition and healthcare,” said NK Premachandran, a Revolutionary Socialist Party MP, whose Anganwadi Workers (Regularisation of Service and Welfare) Bill 2019 was introduced in the Lower House last Friday.

Private members’ bills are taken up every alternate Fridays during a session.

http hg81808.comGujarat MP Kirit Premjibhai Solanki’s bill seeking to make playing sport India’s newest fundamental right also got introduced last Friday.

http hg81808.com“Sport is an inseparable part of education. Many children are deprived of access to proper facilities and training,” he said.

It is yet to be taken up for discussion.

http hg81808.comMP Shushmita Dev (Congress) said such bills end up being an academic exercise.

http hg81808.com“However, it is an important platform as it builds on our autonomy as thinking individuals. We have a right to think, going beyond our party lines or official agenda.”