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Parliament passes Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2014, with Lok Sabha giving its nod to the Legislation

When the electronic voting was done, 121 members voted against the amendment in comparison to 43 members who favoured it

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New Delhi, Dec 16, 2016: Parliament on Friday passed the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill, 2014, with the Lok Sabha giving its nod to the legislation. It was the first bill in the winter session to be passed amid comparative bonhomie between the government and the opposition in both houses.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in the Lok Sabha as the bill was passed on the last day of the session.

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The bill, which replaces the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, has been brought in to comply with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which India signed in 2007.

The legislation was pending in the Rajya Sabha since February 2014 as the term of the erstwhile UPA government ended soon after the bill was introduced. It was passed by the upper house earlier this week.

Piloting the bill in the lower house, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said the bill will increase reservations for the disabled persons to 4 per cent.

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“There will be 21 categories instead of seven earlier to cover all disabilities. Medical and education facilities are also given. No Divyangs (disabled) will be left out,” he said.

Most Congress members, including the party leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, were missing from the house as the bill was tabled as they went for a meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee on the demonetisation issue.

Congress member K.C. Venugopal, who was present in the house and participated in the debate, also used it as an opportunity to speak on demonetisation.

“Since 16th (November) we are trying to discuss the issue of demonetisation, but government is not interested,” he said.

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He then welcomed the bill but highlighted the the draft legislation did not compel private firms to give reservation to disabled persons, and it only said this should be done if it is economically viable.

As the bill was taken up for passage, amendments brought by opposition members were defeated one after the other.

However, in one of the amendments, Congress members insisted for a division.

When the electronic voting was done, 121 members voted against the amendment in comparison to 43 members who favoured it.

However, the giant screens in the Lok Sabha which were supposed to display the members’ votes according to the seating plan faced a malfunction, and could not display the result.

This was used by the opposition as an opportunity to take a dig at the ruling party.

As the Prime Minister was sitting in the house, members from the Congress said that “Digital India has failed”, and “it failed in front of Mr. Digital”.

Another member from the opposition benches said: “It’s condition has become like an ATM.”

The bill was finally passed by voice vote, soon after which the house was adjourned sine die. (IANS)

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President’s Dissolution of Parliament Unconstitutional: Sri Lanka’s Court

The push to oust Rajapaksa dragged Sri Lanka's parliament into chaos.

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Supporters of ousted Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe celebrate outside the supreme court complex in Colombo. VOA

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court has ruled that President Maithripala Sirisena’s move to dissolve parliament last month was illegal.

In a unanimous decision announced Thursday, the seven-member court said that Sirisena violated the constitution when he called a snap election nearly two years before the parliamentary session was due to end.

The decision adds another chapter to a political crisis that began on on October 26, when President Sirisena fired Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, claiming that an informant told police that a Cabinet minister was part of a plot to assassinate him.

Sri Lanka, parliament
Ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe holds a copy of the constitution of Sri Lanka as he attends a media briefing at his official residence in Colombo, Oct. 29, 2018. VOA

He replaced Wickremesinghe with Mahinda Rajapaksa, the country’s former president and strongman, then suspended parliament the next day. In an apparent bow to international pressure, Sirisena summoned lawmakers back to work last Monday.

But when it became apparent that Rajapaksa would not survive a no-confidence vote, Sirisena dissolved parliament on November 9 and called for snap elections. The Supreme Court overruled the president’s decree in a ruling issued just days later.

Wickremesinghe has remained in the prime minister’s official residence in Colombo in defiance of Sirisena’s actions.

Sri Lanka, Parliament
Newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa speaks during the parliament session in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Nov. 15, 2018. VOA

The push to oust Rajapaksa dragged Sri Lanka’s parliament into chaos. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya held a voice vote on November 14 on the no-confidence motion after Rajapaksa’s supporters staged an noisy, impromptu protest in the chamber before debate began.

Also Read: Sri Lanka On The Brink of ‘Economic Anarchy’

The next day, rival lawmakers exchanged blows after Jayasuriya declared that Sri Lanka had no prime minister or a cabinet, with some of Rajapaksa’s supporters hurling water bottles and other objects at Jayasuriya. (VOA)