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Parliament passes 12 bills
Published on 24 Dec. 2008 2:02 AM IST
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Amidst continuous and vociferous demands for Minority Affairs Minister A.R. Antulay's resignation following his remarks on the death of a Maharashtra police officer, the two houses of parliament passed 12 bills on the concluding day of their session Tuesday, with even Home Minister P. Chidambaram's much awaited statement on the issue being drowned out in the din in the Lok Sabha. "The issue is over after Chidambaram's statement," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters outside Parliament House after the two houses were adjourned sine die on a day that witnessed three disruptions each. The uproar over Antulay's remarks questioning the circumstances leading to the death of Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare during the Mumbai terror strikes echoed both in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha with opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) MPs staging noisy protests. Chidambaram began his statement in the Lok Sabha by recounting the sequence of events that led to death of three police officers travelling in a car near Cama hospital on the night of Nov 26 when terrorists struck Mumbai. The three officers were Karkare, Additional Commissioner of Police Ashok Kamte and anti-extortion cell chief and "encounter specialist" Vijay Salaskar. "Based on three eyewitness accounts, the Mumbai police reconstructed the exact sequence of events that night," he said. The accounts were from Mohammed Ajmal Amin alias Kasab, the only terrorist who was caught alive, Arun Jadav, a police official, and Maruti Madhav, a driver working for the Maharashtra government. "As soon as Karkare reached his home in Dadar at 21.45 hrs, he was alerted by his staff. He got into a car with one IPS officer and four constables," said Chidam-baram. Before he could proceed further, the BJP MPs who had already staged a walkout began shouting from the far end of the hall. As the din continued, an exasperated Speaker Somnath Chatterjee asked Chidambaram to table the statement. Antulay had hinted that Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare's death could be linked to the Sep 29 Malegaon bombing he was investigating and in which members of Hindu radical groups are the main suspects. Cries for his resignation had begun in the morning itself. Soon after the house started its proceedings, NDA members shouted slogans and marched towards the speaker's podium demanding Antulay's removal. "We are agitated over the issue that made a minister (Antulay) hero in Pakistan," Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha L.K Advani said. The Left members also shouted slogans against the Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill, which was introduced in the house Monday to increase the cap on foreign investment in the sector. Similar scenes were played out in the Rajya Sabha. The upper house was first adjourned within three minutes of convening for the last day of the current session, with opposition MPs demanding a statement from Chidambaram or the prime minister over Antulay's remarks. At the same time, MPs from Communist parties shouted slogans against the introduction of the bill that seeks to reform the insurance sector. Presiding over the house, Vice President Hamid Ansari said: "Honourable members, this house is violating its own dignity. I have no option but to adjourn it till noon." When the upper house reconvened after the adjournment, NDA MPs continued to shout slogans demanding the resignation of Antulay, forcing another adjournment till 2 p.m. There was then a third adjournment till 3 p.m. when Ansari announced the conclusion of the session. As the Lok Sabha convened again at 2 p.m. after it was adjourned twice since the morning, a supplementary list of business, which included four bills for consideration and passing, was circulated among the members. The bills passed included the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) (Union Territories) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2008, South Asian University Bill 2008, Code of Criminal Procedure amendment Bill 2008, and Collection of Statistics Bill 2008. Earlier, the revised list of business was circulated in the morning and five bills were passed without any discussion in less than 15 minutes. Angry over the passage of bills without any discussion, members of the Left parties trooped into the well of the house and protested. They also tore the copies of the bills and raised slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as well as the government for disrupting the house on the issue of Antulay's controversial remarks. The Left MPs also staged a sit-in in front of the parliament building and boycotted the rest of the house proceedings. On its part, the Rajya Sabha passed the Appropriation (Railways) Bill 2008, a bill on reservations in appointments in the civil services for members of the scheduled castes and tribes and a bill to amend the IT act.

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