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How was the GNCTD Bill passed in the RS?

From the Editor’s desk

Rajya Sabha passed the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021 amidst huge furore in the House, two back-to-back adjournments as opposition members trooped in the well of the House raising slogans protesting the Bill and finally staging a walkout. There was a bit of confusion about the way the Bill was passed and whether the AAP joined the Congress led walk-out or not and whether the Opposition parties which walked out, did so after the voting or before it.

The below sequence of events may help in clarifying many of these doubts:

1. Derek O Brian raised a point of order, quoting Rule 266 of the “Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the
Council of States (Rajya Sabha)” thereby wanting the bill not to be taken up for consideration since many MPs including Amit Shah were away for election campaigning. The Minister of Law and Justice of India, R.S. Prasad interpreted the rule and said the specific rule only referred to the residuary powers and since making laws is the main job of the Parliament and elections will be there all the year round, the Bill should be taken up for consideration.

2. The Chairman thereafter, conducted a voice vote specifically for taking up the bill for consideration. The Ayes won it. One of the Opposition members asked for a division of votes for this.

3. This division of votes was specifically for the motion for consideration of the Bill. 83 voted for and 45 against and none abstaining.

4. Since the Bill was going to be taken up for consideration after the division of votes and by voice vote, INC MP and the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge announced the Opposition decision to walk out since the Government was being stubborn even at the face of so much dissent, to which the Chairman retorted a “Dhanyawad”.

5. The Hindu had reported that even AAP MPs had walked out.

6. The Bill was taken up clause by clause for voice vote after the walkout.

7. Some AAP supporters in social media, refuted The Hindu’s claim that the AAP MPs had also walked out with the rest of the Opposition. Towards that claim, please look at image-1 which is a screen grab of Sanjay Singh speaking against the Bill. Please note the row he is sitting in.

8. The 2nd image is a screen grab of the Opposition walking out. Do you note the place where Sanjay Singh was previously sitting? All the members from the three aisles on the left can be seen up and walking out. Unless there is a screenshot of Sanjay Singh having shifted to the two aisles on the right (where the NDA members seem to be sitting), during the walkout, in all probability AAP members including Sanjay Singh had also joined the rest of the Opposition parties, before the clauses were taken up for voting by voice.

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