Amid the raging controversy over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said that citizenship was a subject of the Centre as per the Constitution of India and all state governments would have to implement the new citizenship law passed by both Houses of Parliament in December last year.
Birla also said the unlimited rights of state assembly speakers on anti-defections law were likely to be curtailed as courts had made adverse comments on the conduct of speakers of several state assemblies on the disqualification of MLAs.
Kerala and Punjab state assemblies have passed resolutions against the implementation of the CAA while other opposition-ruled state have announced that they would not implement the new citizenship law.
“The rights and subjects of the Centre and the states are clearly defined in the Constitution. The states can enact legislation on the subjects listed in the State List while the Centre alone can enact laws on the subjects listed in Central List of the Constitution. Both states and the Centre can enact a legislation on subjects mentioned in the Concurrent List,” the Lok Sabha Speaker said here on Friday.
The CAA provides for granting citizenship to the persecuted minority communities like Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Christian from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Exclusion of Muslims from these three countries has caused the controversy and sparked nation-wide protests.
“The issue of curtailing the unlimited rights of the presiding officers (speakers) of the state assemblies was discussed during the Dehradun conference of the presiding officers in 2018. A committee headed by PC Joshi, Speaker of the Rajasthan Assembly, is looking into the matter and as soon as the report is received, efforts will be made for consensus among all the speakers of the state assemblies for curtailing the unlimited rights of the presiding officers of the state assemblies,” Om Birla said.
He said the idea behind curtailing the powers of the speakers was seamless and meaningful conduct of the proceedings of the legislature.
He said another committee headed by UP Assembly Speaker HN Dikshit was working on ways and means to end the frequent disruptions leading to adjournment of the proceedings of the legislature.
“If consensus is arrived at, rules will be framed for dealing with the disruptions in the House,” he said.
The Lok Sabha Speaker said a conference of the presiding officers of state assemblies and parliamentary affairs ministers would also be organised soon and the report of the three committees would be placed in the conference for reaching a consensus on the findings of the committees.
Om Birla said the research and reference wing of the Lok Sabha secretariat, in association with the state assemblies, was working on a project for digitisation of the records of the proceedings of Parliament and state assemblies so that the entire record was available on one platform to the people. He said records of 40 lakh debates of the Lok Sabha had so far been digitised and the work was likely to be completed by the end of the 2020.
The Lok Sabha Speaker said for ensuring accountability of the executive towards the legislature, a conference of the chairpersons of Public Accounts Committees (PAC) of all legislatures would be held next year. He said the members of the PACs of all state assemblies would also attend the conference apart from economists and experts.
He said the idea behind the conference was to ensure proper utilisation of budgetary grants so as to benefit the common man.
“The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) meeting also decided that for capacity building of the elected representatives, regular training programme for MLAs will be organised by the Lok Sabha secretariat in next three years. Similar programmes are also proposed to be organised for the other elected representatives of urban local bodies and three-tier panchayat institutions so that they conduct their affairs in more organised manner after debate over the budget and its utilisation,” Birla said