Parliament on Monday approved three bills aimed at abolishing several appeals courts, ending the retrospective tax on indirect transfers of Indian assets and creating a new central university in Ladakh. All three bills were approved by the Rajya Sabha, having been passed by the Lok Sabha earlier in the current monsoon session of Parliament.
The first of three bills to be approved, the Courts Reform (Streamlining and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2021, will replace an ordinance. During discussion of the bill, Biju Janata Dal’s Sujeet Kumar, who was the first speaker, said the legislation would help remove an extra layer of arbitration. He pointed out, however, that there were still some key flaws in the bill, including the fact that short member terms would ensure the executive’s grip on the courts. The age criterion set out in the bill did not make sense either. “If you can become a High Court judge at 40, it doesn’t make sense that in order to be a member of courts under the bill you have to be 50,” he said.
The opposition took the opportunity to speak out on the bill to raise the issue of the Pegasus cyberattack. DMK MP NR Elango said, “I oppose the bill. The government wants to abolish certain courts, which will increase the workload of the High Courts. On the contrary, I would demand that the government establish a tribunal to investigate the Pegasus cyberattack. “
In her response, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman questioned Congress for raising concerns about the independence of the judiciary, being a party that curtailed it during the emergency. She said the government fully respects the independence of the judiciary, but also respects the power of the legislature.
The House then resumed and returned the Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, after the opposition staged a walkout against what it called the bill’s last-minute inclusion in the list. business of the day.
Ms Sitharaman said the amendment would overrule the 2012 amendment that introduced retrospective taxation. India’s sovereign right would not be diluted by the bill, she said.