Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur on Saturday told the Lok Sabha members that PM CARES Fund, set up in March in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic by the prime minister’s office, is absolutely transparent. He said it will be audited by the same group that audits the PM Relief fund.
Earlier in the day, Jammu and Kashmir National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah said that the Union Territory should have the same rights as the rest of the country to progress. Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy said that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is a cause of concern and demanded that all 230 political leaders who are still in detention should be released.
Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha passed a law that provides for a nearly five-year jail term for those attacking healthcare workers fighting Covid-19 or during any situation similar to the pandemic.
8.55 pm: Here are the updates of the day.
8.53 pm: Congress leader Manish Tewari is speaking about The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
8.51 pm: Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi has questioned the benefits availed through PM Cares. He poses the questions to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. “In the 2015 J&K floods, 2017 Bihar floods, funds were sanctioned through the PMNRF, what special benefit did you get by setting up PM CARES?” he says, according to The Hindu.
8 pm: Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury asks Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman why did the government create PM CARES Fund when we already have Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.
7.27 pm: Anurag Thakur says PM CARES Fund is a public charitable trust and hence it was suggested that Comptroller and Auditor General audit is not required. “If those who are demanding CAG audit for this trust, are they ready for audit of all the trusts being managed by one family,” he asks.
7.15 pm: Thakur questions Opposition leaders on why there is such distrust about PM CARES Fund, reports The Hindu. “Is there any past experience which has caused it,” he asks.
7.07 pm: Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur tells Lok Sabha that the PM CARES Fund is absolutely transparent, reports ANI. “It has been set up under the law, registered as trust under 1908 Act,” he adds. “An independent auditor appointed, it’s the same auditor who audits PM National Relief Fund. Nobody is forced to donate to this fund.”
6.38 pm: Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra says Chinese companies donated to PM CARES Fund, reports The Hindu. “Why [is government] accepting donations form our enemy companies, return it,” she says.
6.30 pm: Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju says Rs 28.75 crores has been spent on maintenance and upkeep of Sports Authority of India centres across the country during the lockdown, reports ANI.
6.18 pm: Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra tells Lok Sabha that the Taxation Amendment Bill corners the public funds for PM CARES to the direct detriment of state relief funds, reports ANI.
6.16 pm: TRS president and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has asked his party MPs to vote against the farm bills in Rajya Sabha, reports PTI.
6.06 pm: MPs of many political parties have expressed willingness to curtail the Monsoon Session of the Parliament due to rise in coronavirus cases, reports ANI. “Will ask for a curtailed session,” say representatives of a political party while heading to Business Advisory Committee meeting.
5 pm: Abdullah says India should also start talk with Pakistan to resolve problems. “Like we are talking to China to resolve issues, we need to hold talks with the other neighbour country as well,” he says. “People are dying every day, border skirmishes are on a rise. We need to find some solution.”
4.45 pm: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah says the Union Territory should have the same rights as the rest of the country to progress. “No progress is taking place in Jammu and Kashmir,” he says in Lok Sabha. “People there do not have access to 4G facility, how are they going to grow in the present time when the rest of the country has access to every facility on the internet.”
4.22 pm: YSR Congress Party MPs protest outside the Parliament to demand CBI inquiry into the Amaravati capital land scam.
4.15 pm: Union Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar has introduced New Labour Code in Lok Sabha.
4 pm: In Lok Sabha, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy says the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is a cause of concern more than a year since the Centre abrogated the special status. He says all 230 political leaders who are still in detention must be released.
2.25 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party issues whip to its Rajya Sabha MPs directing them to be present in the House tomorrow, reports ANI.
2 pm: Rajya Sabha passes the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill 2020.
1.51 pm: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam calls for an all-party meeting on September 21 to discuss the farm bills, ANI reports.
1.46 pm: The Rajya Sabha has been adjourned till 9 am tomorrow, ANI reports.
1.37 pm: Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal says there can be no talks with the Centre until the farm bills are taken back, ANI reports. “We’ll go to Punjab now, where party leaders and workers will hold meeting,” he tells reporters. “Since Shiromani Akali Dal is a party of farmers, we will struggle at the forefront. There can be no talks with the Centre till the bills are taken back.”
1.33 pm: The sitting hours of the Rajya Sabha have been extended until the Epidemic Diseases Amendment Bill is passed.
1.19 pm: The government has informed the Rajya Sabha that 97 people died on board the Shramik Special trains, PTI reports. “Based on the data provided by state police, 97 persons have been reported dead till 09.09.2020 while travelling on board Shramik Special Trains during current Covid-19 situation/crisis,” Railway Minister Piyush Goyal says.
1.03 pm: Nationalist Congress Party MP Vandana Chavan says the Epidemic Diseases Amendment Bill does not provide any protection to ASHA workers. Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Shiv Sena supports the bill.
1 pm: A majority of Rajya Sabha Opposition members have supported the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020. The bill grants interim relief to businesses from insolvency proceedings. The Upper House passes by a voice vote the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020’, whereby fresh insolvency proceedings will not be initiated for at least six months, starting from March 25, against companies in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
12.54 pm: Samajwadi Party MP Ram Gopal Yadav says there must be a provision in the bill to take action against those who sold personal protective equipment kits to states at inflated prices, causing loss to the exchequer, The Hindu reports. “What about those black marketers who hoarded medicines claiming to cure coronavirus and fooled people?” he asks. “There should be provisions in the bill to address these issues. Moreover, if the sole bread winner of a family has died due to Covid-19, he should be compensated and protected by the government.”
12.44 pm: BJP MP Saroj Pandey, speaking in support of the bill, says the ordinance was brought out because of the attacks on healthcare professionals. “We showered flowers on them, the healthcare workers couldn’t even meet their families for months as they wanted to protect them from infection,” she says.
12.34 pm: However, the tabling of the bill did not go down well with the Trinamool Congress, ANI reports. “You thought of healthcare workers now?” Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien asks. “Bengal has Medicare Service Prevention of Violence&Damage to Property Act2009. What happens to it? This bill is an attempt to encroach states’ constitutionally assigned functioning.”
12:07 pm: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan tables the Epidemic Diseases Amendment Bill 2020 in Rajya Sabha, The Hindu reported. In his opening remarks, the health minister says medical professionals were being beaten up and abused for doing their work in view of the coronavirus. “[On] 22nd April, this ordinance was brought out and the act was amended,” he says. “Attacking medical professionals was made non-bailable and cognisable offence, attracting imprisonment up to seven years. After that, there has been a dramatic decrease in violence against medical professionals.”
11.02 am: Suspended Congress leader Sanjay Jha tweets in support of agriculture bills. “Dear fellow Congress-people, one must oppose PM [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi whenever justified; that’s par for the course,” he tweets. “But let’s not make it a mindless obsession. On APMC [Agricultural produce market committee], there is a simple test: Does not APMC abolition end monopoly/cartels & so boost farmer’s income? If yes, back the bills.”
10.58 am: The Trinamool Congress moves a motion to send the bills related to agriculture to a select committee, reports News 18. Meanwhile, the Congress is holding talks with Shiv Sena as it looks for like-minded parties on the three bills passed in Lok Sabha.
10.01 am: Communist Party of India (Marxist) MPs KK Ragesh, Elamaram Kareem, Communist Party of India MP Binoy Viswam and Congress MP KC Venugopal move the resolution: “That this House disapproves the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 (No. 9 of 2020) promulgated by the President of India on 5th June, 2020.” Ragesh wants to know how many ordinances have been promulgated in the last six years.
9.58 am: However, Opposition MPs create a commotion, demanding that the farm bills be discussed in the Rajya Sabha today, The Hindu reports. Chairperson Venkaiah Naidu says that the bills are to be taken up on Sunday, and the discussion can take place then.
9.51 am: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tables The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the Rajya Sabha.
9.48 am: On Saturday, the Lok Sabha will take up the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, and the Code on Social Security, 2020. On the other hand, the Industrial Relations Code, 2019, and the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019, will be withdrawn.
9.45 am: Bharatiya Janata Party leaders have expressed confidence that they will get the support of over 130 members, including nine of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, seven of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and six of the YSR Congress if a division of votes is sought on these bills.
9.42 am: The Rajya Sabha session has begun with Zero Hour, News18 reports. Three agriculture bills are to be passed in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow.
Congress MP raise their objections to the bills, but are not allowed to speak by the chairperson. The government has reportedly reached out to some “friendly” opposition parties in an effort to pass the bills.