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‘Bill sent to joint panel, devalues Standing panel’

2023-12-03 11:38:23source:android

Taking exception to the government’s decision to refer the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill to a joint committee of Parliament, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday wrote to Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar, arguing that the move was a “devaluation and denigration” of the status and functions of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment, Forests and Climate Change, which he heads.

‘Bill sent to joint panel, devalues Standing panel’

In his letter, Ramesh argued that the Bill falls “fairly and squarely” in the domain of the Standing Committee and sought Dhankhar’s intervention to “prevent its complete emasculation”.

‘Bill sent to joint panel, devalues Standing panel’

“Standing committees are primarily to examine Bills. But they can do so only if Bills are allowed to be referred to them for scrutiny. By referring the…Bill to a joint committee, the government is deliberately by-passing the Standing Committee, which would have subjected the legislation to detailed examination with the full participation of all stakeholders,” Ramesh wrote.

‘Bill sent to joint panel, devalues Standing panel’

“That I am the chairman of the Standing Committee leads me to the firm belief that the Government does not want the Bill to be examined by the Standing Committee concerned, although the majority of its members belong to the ruling party,” he stated.

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As the Standing Committee chairman, Ramesh wrote, he has managed it in a most democratic and non-partisan manner. “At times, I have allowed my personal views to take a backseat when there is a larger consensus in a different direction. And I have always adhered to deadlines,” he said.

He said there are also “serious problems” with the list of members from the Rajya Sabha proposed by the government for the joint committee.

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“No member of the Opposition figures in the list which is hopelessly one-sided. That is a separate issue. The fundamental issue is the devaluation and denigration of the status and functions of the standing committee concerned,” he said, urging the Chairman to “ensure that proper parliamentary rules, procedures, conventions and traditions will be followed and that the Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment, Forests & Climate Change will get to examine the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill, 2023.”

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