New Delhi, September 7; The Opposition on Saturday forced Law Minister Kapil Sibal to apologise in the Rajya Sabha for failing to get a Constitution Amendment Bill passed in the Lok Sabha, alleging that he “misled” the Upper House while getting it passed in “haste”.
Attacking Mr. Sibal for not sending the bill to the Standing Committee as desired by majority of members in the Rajya Sabha, the BJP created ruckus leading to two adjournments soon after the House met for the day. The BJP also charged the government with not doing its home work.
“I say once again that despite our best efforts, I am sorry that the bill could not be passed in the Lok Sabha. I regret it,” Mr. Sibal said silencing the opposition which was not allowing the House to function till he apologised.
Mr. Sibal had earlier had expressed regret saying, “I am deeply anguished with the fact that Constitutional Amendment Bill could not be taken up by Lok Sabha.”
Ravi Shankar Prasad (BJP), however, said, “Home work was not done. We were misled into passing it…The Minister has committed a mistake, he should feel sorry for his act. Law Minister should apologise to the House. He must apologise, anguish would not do.”
Mr. Sibal told the House that there was some error in the title of the bill. When introduced, it was titled 120th Constitution Amendment Bill, but when passed it should have read as 99th Constitution Amendment Bill.
“The Secretariat realised some error has taken place. The patent error was immediately intimated to the Chairman who corrected it and transmitted to the Lok Sabha. The bill was printed and ready for passage. However, I regret despite our best efforts it could not be taken up by the Lok Sabha. It was not intentional,” he said.
Earlier, Mr. Prasad said the entire opposition wanted such an important bill to be sent to the Standing Committee as it was an important judicial legislation which paves the way for creation of a Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) to replace the present collegium system to appoint judges to higher courts.
Mr. Prasad said the bill concerned the functioning of the Supreme Court, High Courts and judiciary and the opposition had demanded that it be brought in the next session but “there is complete inconsistency.”
P Rajeev (CPI(M)) said the bill should have been sent to the Standing Committee but the minister gave an assurance that Lok Sabha will pass it and then it will be sent to state legislatures.
He said it is a very serious issue remarking, “How can we believe in a government like this?”
P J Kurien, who was in the Chair, however, intervened saying, “The Minister has already expressed anguish and regret…Human nature is to err.”
Najma Heptulla (BJP wanted to know who was behind the mistake.
With the opposition unrelenting, the Law Minister apologised.
Earlier, as soon as the House met for the day, Mr. Prasad demanded that the Minister must come to the House and explain as to why was the bill was rushed through in Rajya Sabha saying, “He has taken us for a ride and owes us an apology.”
Rajya Sabha had passed the bill on September 5 by 131 votes in favour and one against after a walkout by BJP rejecting its demand for referring it to a Standing Committee.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said government was keen on taking the bill for passage in Lok Sabha. However, as a result of some patent and technical error, it could not be taken up.
“If process had been gone through, we could have taken it up (in Lok Sabha),” Mr. Nath said.
But, this did not pacify the agitated members and amid din Mr. Kurien adjourned the House for 15 minutes.
When the House reassembled, similar scenes were witnessed as members wanted to know as to what was the error in the bill. As din continued, Mr. Kurien adjourned the House till noon.