Rajya Sabha witness 4 adjournments amid Oppn uproar over demand to send insurance bill to par panel

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New Delhi, Mar 18 (PTI) Rajya Sabha on Thursday witnessed four brief adjournments amid opposition uproar over demand for sending the Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to a Parliamentary standing committee for scrutiny.

The Insurance (Amendment) Bill, 2021 seeks to hike foreign direct investment in the insurance sector to 74 per cent from existing 49 per cent and removes restrictions on ownership and control on insurance companies. This would enable foreign companies to own and control insurance firms in India.

In the afternoon, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman moved the Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2021 in the Upper House to consider for further amendment of the Insurance Act 1938.

Leader of Opposition (LoP) Mallikarjun Kharge said the insurance amendment bill 2021 will put people in trouble. The Insurance Act 1938 is being amended for the third time, he said.

He said the Act was first amended during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's tenure when 26 per cent FDI was allowed in the insurance sector.

Later in 2015, the law was amended further to allow 49 per cent FDI and now the amendment is for allowing 74 per cent, he added.

'I want the bill to be scrutinised to address the gaps and it should be referred to a standing committee,' Kharge said.

The Opposition raised slogans and trooped into the well following which Deputy Chairman Harivansh was forced to adjourn the House for 10 minutes until 2:43 PM. The House was again adjourned till 3 pm.

When the House resumed again at 3pm, it was again adjourned for 15 minutes. At quarter past three, the Deputy Chairman invited Congress leader Anand Sharma to initiate the discussion on the bill. But Sharma asked the Deputy Chairman to hear LoP for a while first.

Kharge said, 'I am not going to make a speech. He (Sharma) will make a speech. But my request is that this is a very important matter. It pertains to the crore of people's lives and crores of rupees are invested. Nearly 58 companies are involved in this. Therefore, we are requesting, you refer this bill to standing committee and everything will come out.' The Deputy Chairman explained that the amendment for sending the bill to standing committee is given either by government or the Opposition, but neither has done so in this case. Addressing Sharma, he said this bill is now a property of the House and the House will decided about it.

After repeated but unsuccessful request to Sharma to start the discussion, the Deputy Chairman invited BJP member Arun Singh to speak on the bill.

Singh spoke in favour of the bill even as Opposition members kept on raising slogans that the government is selling the country.

When the House did not come in order while Singh was speaking on the bill, the Deputy Chairman adjourned the House for the fourth time for 10 minutes until 3:39pm.

When the house resumed again, the Deputy Chairman called LoP to speak.

Kharge said, 'This is unfortunate that government does not want to send this bill to a standing committee. The government is adamant. This involves crore of lives of crores of people. They don't want stake-holders to come and talk on this bill and give their representation. They will come to know tomorrow whether they have done good or bad, when there would be strike.' He further said, 'They (government) did not send the three farms bill to a standing committee or joint select committee. Crores of people are sitting on roads because of this reason.' He also stated, 'The is a stubborn government. This government is not paying attention to reservation, investment, support to local people and that is why it wants to sell everything. It wants to sell water, power, industry, bank and all other assets. Their objective is to sell and sell only and that is why they want to bulldoze. We will discuss. But this system to bulldoze should be stopped. Tomorrow, they will face the same backlash as they are facing in case of farmers.' Tiruchi Siva (DMK) said, 'Considering importance of the bill and view of lakhs of employees of the insurance sector and also of the economy of the country, We insisted that bill must be scrutinised through a standing committee. Discussion in the House within few hour will not serve the purpose of passing any law in real sense. So the only scrutiny in standing or select committee will give scope for stakeholders to present before the committee and express their views...but the government is very adamant on passing the bill.' He further said, 'As a responsible opposition party, we will cooperate and participate in the proceedings and place place our view on record, against the bill or about the bill.' Thereafter, BJP member Arun Singh continued his speech.

After Singh, Congress member Sharma said, 'A bill must go through Parliament scrutiny. The government wants to push it though. Insurance is a strategic and social sector. This sector harnesses saving and reinvests in India's development. We must not forget that insurance policy also provides social security cover to a lot of common people.' PTI LUX KKS KKS TIR TIR