Lucknow, Aug 22 (PTI) The Uttar Pradesh Legislature on Saturday passed around two dozen important bills, including the one under which rioters will have to pay for any damage to property, without any discussion, amid a din by the opposition which protested and shouted slogans against the government. Once the bills were passed, presiding officers of both the legislative assembly and legislative council adjourned the Houses abruptly sine die.
The two houses were to conclude the Monsoon Session on Monday but with the government completing its legislative agenda soon, Saturday was the last seating of the session.
Assembly Speaker Hriday Narayan Dixit told PTI, 'In all, 27 bills were tabled in the assembly and passed by the House. The average attendance of MLAs was above 300.' When asked how much time was taken in the passage of the bills, Dixit said, 'It took 60 to 90 minutes'.
Soon after the House met and paid tributes to two of its former members Vivek Singh and Kunwar Bahadur Misra, the opposition members trooped into the Well of the House, shouting slogans and holding banners to lodge their protests over law and order, the government's handling of coronavirus pandemic and floods in the state. The government drew flak from the opposition for hurrying to get over two dozen bills passed. The House took up its business agenda, allowing the government to table 27 bills and get them passed in over an hour without any discussion with opposition members who continued their protest in the Well of the House.
Among the bills which were passed were the Uttar Pradesh Public Health and Epidemic Disease Control Bill, 2020 and Cow-Slaughter Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2020. The Uttar Pradesh Public Health and Epidemic Disease Control Bill 2020 aims at ensuring stricter punishment for those harassing coronavirus frontline workers, which includes doctors, paramedical staff, police personnel and sanitation personnel. Spitting on any worker is also considered an offence under this.
The Cow Slaughter Prevention (Amendment) Bill 2020 provides for stricter punishment for violators and permits the prosecution of the driver and owner of the vehicle used to carry a cow for the purpose of slaughter. It penalises cow slaughter with jail terms ranging from a minimum of one year to a maximum of 10 years and imposes monetary fine between Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
The Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damages to Public and Private Properties Bill 2020 was also passed.
It aims at recovery of damage done to public and private properties by rioters and protesters. It also provides for the setting-up of tribunals to adjudicate claims for damages and recover them. As per the statement of object and reasons, it aims at dealing with 'all acts of violence at public places and to control its persistence and escalation, and to provide for the recovery of damage to public or private property during hartal, bandh, riots, public commotion or protests'.
These bills were slated to be tabled in the assembly on Friday, but the House was adjourned for the day after condoling the death of sitting member Janmejay Singh.
Hitting out at the government, senior Samajwadi Party MLA Mehboob Ali (from Amroha Assembly constituency) told PTI, 'Never in the past it has happened that all the rules of democracy have been openly flouted, and the bills have been passed on Saturday. You can check the previous records.' UP Congress chief and MLA from Tamukhiraj Assembly constituency Ajay Kumar Lallu also attacked the state government.
'The intention of the government was to not run the House, and it was only indulging in allegation and counter-allegation. Democracy and the constitutional values were murdered. Imagine 27 bills were passed in a single day. What does this mean? Discussion on 27 bills would have needed 12 days for detailed discussions to find shortcomings,' Lallu told PTI.
He added that in UP, two ministers succumbed to COVID-19.
'Today, the government should answer on issues like COVID-1, poor law and order, flood situation, farmer suicide, unemployment among youths. Basically, the government is running from a discussion. It is trying to overpower the voice of the opposition by its strength in the House. Today will be one of the black days in history when democracy was maligned,' Lallu claimed.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who was present in the House, gave a statement on the law and order situation and the measures being taken to deal with the pandemic. He presented statistics, asserting that Uttar Pradesh was much better poised on both the fronts than other states.
He also attacked the opposition for being 'bereft' of issues and 'trying to mislead' the people.
The brief Monsoon Session, which was scheduled to continue till Monday, was adjourned sine die after Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Khanna abruptly moved a proposal for it.
Later, speaking to PTI, Speaker Hriday Narayan Dixit said that conducting the House was a challenge in the face of COVID-19 pandemic.
'We were feeling a bit apprehensive earlier. But, 33 MLAs attended the House virtually. For many days, the House did not meet on Saturday, but we utilised this Saturday as well,' he said.
The speaker also said that three sittings of the House were held in this session, and time spent was 4 hours 30 minutes.
The UP Legislative Council too was adjourned sine die by Chairman Ramesh Yadav after the House passed 27 bills which were already passed by the legislative assembly. PTI SAB NAV SMI AAR AAR