Home >politics >policy >Winter session of Parliament: Here’s what to expect

Parliament began its winter session on Monday, adjourning after obituary references to Congress Rajya Sabha member of parliament (MP) and former Union minister Murli Deora and Trinamool Congress Lok Sabha MP Kapil Krishna Thakur.

Deora died after prolonged illness early Monday morning and Thakur passed away last month.

When it reconvenes, the government is expected to push its economic reforms agenda through amendments and Bills. These include a Bill seeking to raise the cap on foreign direct investment in insurance from 26% to 49%. In addition, a proposed goods and services tax (GST) Act, which needs a Constitutional amendment, is key to the Centre’s plan to roll out GST by 2016.

A total of 67 Bills are pending before both houses of Parliament, and 22 sittings are slotted for the winter session.

With 282 members, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has a majority in the Lok Sabha. But it is in a minority in the upper House where it 55 has out of 245 seats.

With the opposition expected to challenge the government over the insurance Bill and amendments to the land acquisition law, the government is considering calling a joint sitting of Parliament, where the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will be in a majority.

According to independent research agency PRS Legislative, two new Bills to replace existing ordinances including Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 2014, and Textile Undertakings (Nationalisation) Laws (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2014, are expected in the winter session. Bills that have been cleared by the Union cabinet in the last three months are also likely to come up for consideration. They include the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill, 2013 and the School of Planning and Architecture Bill, 2014. This session is also likely to see 11 Bills relating to health and family welfare come up for passage, including the Mental Health Care Bill, 2014, and the HIV (Control and Prevention) Bill, 2014.

Also expected to be considered are Bills that have been examined by standing committees, like the Rights of Persons of Disabilities Bill, 2014, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014, Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and Railways (Amendment) Bill, 2014.

There are other draft Bills that are in the process of being finalized by individual ministries that may be introduced in this session. They include the Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014, which is likely to replace the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. Union minister for road transport and shipping Nitin Gadkari, while addressing a gathering at the recently concluded Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, said: “We will introduce the new Road Transport and Safety Bill to replace the obsolete 1988 Motor Vehicles Act ... Once Parliament clears it, driving licences and permits would be issued online after a stringent test. You will not go to regional transport offices for licences."

Besides, other issues of importance like the government’s efforts to bring back black money, the deaths caused by forced sterilization in Chhattisgarh, the Nanavati commission report on the Gujarat riots and repeated Chinese incursions in the Himalayas are also expected to be raised.

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