The winter session of Indian parliament began on Monday on a sombre note after news came of senior Congress leader Murli Deora’s demise earlier in the day. Both houses were later adjourned.
Nonetheless, this is a crucial session for the Narendra Modi-led BJP government, and the first after the prime minister unveiled his expanded ministerial team earlier this month.
After a budget session that was the most productive in an entire decade—with the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha working for more than their sanctioned time—the winter session should see the government attempt to push forward with its reform agenda, which some feel is happening too slowly.
The opposition parties, however, have already come together and announced their stand against key reform measures, including the Insurance Bill. There may also be an effort to corner the government on its inability to retrieve black money from foreign banks within 100 days of coming to power.
In effect, it will be a litmus test for Modi’s previously stated intention of working with the opposition to pass important legislations and move forward on the “basis of collective decision-making.”
Here is what is on the parliament’s agenda for the month-long session that will end on Dec. 23. This list has been prepared by PRS Legislative Research, which tracks the functioning of the Indian parliament.
- There are 67 bills currently pending before parliament. Of these nine bills were introduced in the previous session of parliament,while 40 of these were introduced in the 15th Lok Sabha, which was the regime of the UPA II Government. 18 other bills are pending from earlier Lok Sabhas.
- The government has promulgated two ordinances in the last few months. These were the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 2014 and the Textile Undertakings (Nationalisation) Laws (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2014. Bills to replace both these ordinances will have to be brought in this session of parliament to ensure that they do not lapse.
- Of the bills pending, 11 are related to health and family welfare, including the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2013, the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill, 2013, the HIV (Prevention and Control) Bill, 2014.
- There are nine bills related to labour and employment, including the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014, and the Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2014, both of which were introduced in the last session.
- A number of pending bills are still being considered by standing committees. These include the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Bill, 2014, the Factories (Amendment) Bill, 2014, the Railways (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and the Tribunals, Appellate Tribunals and Other Authorities (Conditions of Service) Bill, 2014. Whether the committee reports on these bills will come in time for them to be taken up for consideration and passing during the winter session remains to be seen.
- The Insurance (Laws) Amendment Bill, 2008, which allows foreign investors to hold up to 49% of the capital in an Indian insurance company, is currently being considered by a select committee of the Rajya Sabha. The report is due in the winter session of Parliament after which the bill can be moved for consideration and passing.
- Two bills have been cleared by the cabinet in the last three months. These are the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and School of Planning and Architecture Bill, 2014.
- There are also a number of draft bills on which ministries have held pre-legislative consultation. These include the Small Factories (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Bill, 2014, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2014, amendments to the Citizenship Act,1955, and the Road Transport and Safety Bill, 2014.