Art 370 abrogation, women’s reservation among key highlights of 17th Lok Sabha
New Delhi: The curtains came down on Saturday on the 17th Lok Sabha, which was witness to landmark moments such as the abrogation of Article 370, the granting of 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and legislative assemblies, and the inauguration of the new Parliament building.
It also saw the suspension of 100 members in a span of four days for unruly conduct and a major security breach on the anniversary of the 2001 Parliament terror attack.
The December 13 incident, in which two intruders jumped into the Lok Sabha chamber from the public gallery and set-off smoke canisters while the House was in session, led to a review and stepping up of security measures in the Parliament complex.
The Budget session of Parliament, the last before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, started on January 31 and ended on Saturday with a day-long discussion on the construction and consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
The 17th Lok Sabha also saw the passage of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill in 2019, which led to massive protests in many parts of the country. Riots in northeast Delhi following a clash between those in support and against the law claimed several lives.
The passage of three farm bills during this Lok Sabha in 2020 led to a year-long protest on the threshold of Delhi, with demonstrators later entering the national capital. The government in 2021 rolled back the legislations, which allowed farmers to sell produce at markets of their choice and negotiate price of their produce, and scrapped the Centre’s powers to impose stock limits on traders.
After the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, special arrangements, including those to ensure social distancing, were made in Parliament for the 2020 Monsoon session and first part of the 2021 budget session for transacting essential legislative and other businesses.
“The 17th Lok Sabha passed 222 bills. During this period, 202 bills were introduced and 11 bills were withdrawn by the government,” Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said in his valedictory remarks before adjourning the Budget session of the Lower House of Parliament sine die.
Birla said the 17th Lok Sabha had a total of 274 sittings which lasted for 1,354 hours, 345 hours more than the scheduled time.
“A total of 387 hours were lost due to disruptions in this Lok Sabha. The total work productivity of the 17th Lok Sabha has been around 97 per cent which is the highest among the last five Lok Sabhas,” Birla said.
The 17th Lok Sabha also passed three bills in last year to replace colonial-era criminal justice laws and the House witnessed rare unanimity in the approval of the women’s reservation bill.
However, in 2019, when it came to the abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the House saw protest by opposition members, leading to disruption of proceedings.
On the bills to overhaul the criminal justice system, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, “We can proudly say that this country might have lived under the Penal Code for 75 years but now we live under the Nyay Sanhita.”
It was during the 17th Lok Sabha that proceedings last year moved to the new Parliament building from the adjacent old building, which is now a heritage structure named ‘Samvidhan Sadan’.
“We laid the foundation stone for the new Parliament building and we inaugurated it…the members of the 17th Lok Sabha are fortunate as they functioned in the old Parliament as well as the new Parliament building. The people who come next will be in the new Parliament building,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told reporters here.
The shift to the new parliament building was marked with a special session which saw the passage of the women’s reservation bill that grants 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and legislative assemblies.
“The government has signed the cheque, but has not put a date on it. We hope it will be implemented soon,” NCP-SCP leader and Lok Sabha member Supriya Sule said, referring to the women’s reservation bill.
The 17th Lok Sabha also witnessed suspension of 100 members over a period of four days for unruly conduct in the House while demanding a statement from Home Minister Amit Shah on the security breach in Parliament.
On the last day of the session, the House discussed the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, following which a resolution was passed.