Author: Nandini Tripathy from Symbiosis law school, Hyderabad, Content Writer
Passage of the three Farmers’ bills and its outcomes
The Parliament recently passed three controversial bills. The introduction of the bill is based on the concept of “One India, One Agricultural Market”. It aims at opening the gates for farmers to the corporate world to create additional trading opportunities beyond the APMC market yards to help farmers to get remunerative prices due to additional competition.
On the other hand, the opposition is of the view that the bills passed challenges the three pillars of the food security system i.e. Minimum Support Price, Public Procurement and Public Distribution System. It is also argued that the bills are ‘anti-farmer’ as farmers are being handed over to the capitalists who will encroach them and exploit them rather than empower.
The reformations made in the bills and the prime concerns that led to the protests by the farmers and the opposition members of the Parliament are:
The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020
The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price and Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020
Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020
Ruckus in the Council of States:
In most cases, the opposition members of the Parliament used to show their strong dissent in passage of any bills, motions or resolutions. The ruckus in the parliament is not new and they are the conventional practice of the members. It may be as a simple walk-around the well of the house or sometimes unruly behaviour like mocking the Chair. A similar incident happened in 20th September 2020 when eight opposition MPs shown their dissent inside the Rajya Sabha during the passage of the two Farmers’ bills. They demanded the bill to be sent to select committee, however the Council was trying to pass the bill with a voice vote. The agitated MPs naming the bill and the government as anti-farmer, approached the Chair, tore the Rule book, threw papers away, marched towards the Chair and even attempted to break the microphones of the Council Secretary.
The ruckus though seems to be offensive and disrespectful; these are the result of emotions of the parliamentarians. These acts need not be considered either as Criminal Act or as a Civil wrong, however these are morally avoidable and would invite punishments under the Rules of the Council.
Rules and Regulations of the Council of States:
Under Art 118 of the Constitution of India, the Council of States made rules for regulating its procedure and the conduct of its business. Under section 255 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha), the Chairman may direct a member to withdraw from the Council. Under section 256 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States (Rajya Sabha), the Chairman may name a member and cause for an initiation for a motion to suspend the member from the service of the Council. These provisions under sections 255 and 256 were framed in order to ensure “the smooth functioning of the Council” during the sessions.
In the recent issue of ruckus in the Council of States on 20th September 2020, the Chairman of the Council, suspended the 8 opposition members from the sitting. This is a punishment which may be given to the members who violates the Rules of the Council or disregards the authority of the Chair.
On the other hand, the democratic institution like the Parliament, particularly the Council of States, must be functioned with the presence of opposition’s voice. The Chairman, instead of suspending the MPs from the Council, may provide enough time and space for the views and ideas of those MPs which would make the system more democratic. This kind of suspension of MPs is not uncommon, it was happening in almost every session. These activities invite strong criticism against the Presiding Officer (either Speaker of Lok Sabha or Chairman of Rajya Sabha) that, the job of the Presiding Officer is to run the House and not to lord over it.
Legality of the Suspension:
The suspension cannot be called into question before any court of law as far as there is no mala-fide intention behind the suspension. According to sec 256 of the Rules, the Chairman after naming the member(s), a motion has to be resolved for such suspension. However, the suspension shall not exceed a period beyond the remainder of the Session. This kind of motion after a majority decision of the parliamentarian of the Council cannot be challenged as it involves the parliamentary sovereignty.
Further, it is to be noted that, no parliamentarians shall be disqualified or the membership be cancelled on the ground of unruly behaviour within the premises of the House or the Council. Neither the Presiding Officer nor the peer parliamentarians, by way of motion, can cancel the candidature for such acts.
The farmers are the soul of the country and their growth and upliftment is the foremost duty to be taken care of by the government. The bills or the forthcoming enactments must be in a right direction providing a bigger platform to the farmers to get the desired price for their agricultural produce. The reformations which accelerate agricultural growth through private sector investment in constructing agricultural infrastructure and supply chains for Indian farm produce in National / global markets will generate employment opportunities, and strengthen the economy. Further, farmers will be freed from the clutches of selling their produce at designated places. The government has to ensure the practice of MSP and the Mandis under the state laws so as to empower the farmers and foster their growth and development of the country which in turn reshape the Indian economy.