Send anti-terror, RTI Bills to Select Committee: Opposition

New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) Opposition parties, led by the Congress, are demanding the government send the Bills to amend the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and the Right to Information Act, 2005 to a Joint Select Committee.

The RTI amendment bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday, was supposed to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. But the government will now table it on Thursday, along with the anti-terror amendment bill, which was passed by the lower house on Wednesday.

According to Congress leaders, Congress Parliamentary Party chief Sonia Gandhi held discussions on the bills at the party office in Parliament on Wednesday with Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and leaders of other opposition parties including the DMK, the CPI, the CPI-M and the RJD.

However, the MPs of the Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party did not attend. They later met Azad and agreed to the demand to send both the bills to the Joint Select Committee but refused to accept the Congress leadership in the upper house, where the government still short of five members to clear the bill.

The NDA government currently has 116 members in the 244-member upper house of Parliament.

Talking to IANS, Congress General Secretary P.L. Punia said: "The UAPA Bill brought by the government is meant to limit the freedom of people of the country. How such a Bill be passed without scrutinising it or without sending it to the Standing Committee or Joint Select Committee?"

"Parliament is not a rubber stamp where the government brings any Bill and that is passed. The opinion of the stake-holders is required and then include the suggestions which is accepted by all should be passed.

"We also want that the terrorists should not infiltrate intp the country, and those who are caught should be dealt strictly. But the Bill should be brought after discussing with all the stake-holders and then passed," he added.

The bill to amend the RTI Act was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday amid objections by the opposition which alleged that it was an attempt to undermine the law and make the transparency panel a "toothless tiger".

Earlier, Trinamool Rajya Sabha member Derek O'Brien tweeted: "Three Bills listed for passing today in Rajya Sabha. All with zero scrutiny. And the govt expects us to be what? Mute spectators! Constructive Opposition Parliament."

--IANS

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