D Bandyopadhyay speaks on The Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill, 2017


India is a leading maritime nation and has a coastline stretching to around 7500 km. Maritime transportation caters to about 95% of its merchandise trade volume and 68% in terms of value.

This Bill seeks to repeal colonial legislations in force under Article 372 of the Constitution of India, namely:

(a) Admiralty Court Act, 1840,
(b) Admiralty Court Act, 1861,
(c) Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890,
(d) Colonial Courts of Admiralty (India) Act, 1891, and
(e) the provisions of the Letters Patent, 1865, applicable to the admiralty jurisdiction of the Bombay, Calcutta and Madras High Courts

This is a welcome move. These legislations came into force during the colonial era when India had only three major ports — Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. Now there are 12 major ports and 205 minor ports in India. Thus, it was the need of the hour to repeal such archaic laws. However, I must point out that the Supreme Court had suggested this in 1992, and it took us 25 years to finally take cognizance.

Firstly, I would like to talk about jurisdiction – The Bill states that jurisdiction in respect of all maritime claims under this Act shall vest in the respective High Courts and be exercisable over the waters up to and including the territorial waters of their respective jurisdictions in accordance with the provisions contained in this Act.

It further adds that Central Government may by notification, extend the jurisdiction of the High Court up to the limit as defined in section 2 of the Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and Other Maritime Zones Act, 1976.

Sir, this is rather ambiguous and may lead to disputes with States. For this to be effective, the jurisdiction of territorial waters needs to be clearly demarcated through the use of modern technology such as satellite mapping, geospatial mapping, etc.

Here, let me point out that, West Bengal had a territorial water dispute with Odisha. However, the two Chief Ministers of the States had a discussion and solved the issue amicably.

Secondly sir, the High Courts have been given power to adjudicate on such matters, but it is a reality that High Courts across the country are overburdened with the number of cases before them for dispensation. The latest data released by the Ministry of Law and Justice reveals that as of December 2014, there are 3116492 civil cases and 1037465 criminal cases pending in High Courts.

We can safely assume that the number has gone up in the last three years. A major cause of this is that the High Courts are not running to their full strength. Thus, we need to ensure that all vacancies of judges in High Courts are fulfilled to ensure speedy dispensation of cases.

It is also important to look into the environmental aspect and ensure that in case of accidents releasing harmful toxic pollutants, we have a system in place to ensure speedy action. I would like to end by saying that this Bill was long pending and we welcome it.

D Bandyopadhyay speaks on The National Institutes of Technology, Science Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2016

Sir, the business of the Opposition is to oppose but breaking that rule, I stand here today to support. While supporting the Bill, I want to make a couple of suggestions regarding the HRD policy itself. Using make-up on the outside will not help you mask the disease within. I am taking this opportunity to say a few words about the HRD policy itself.

Sir, the HRD policy in our country should be such that any citizen of India of any ethnic origin or any language or any religion should feel the policy is also for him or her. Therefore, I would say that the HRD policy should be secular, pluralistic, minority-friendly and every Indian citizen should feel that he or she has some benefit to get from the HRD policy.

Sir, I would like to say only one more thing. Generally, I speak critically about the government but this time I would also support it. IITs in India (particularly I know of IIT Kharagpur in West Bengal) have set up a beautiful example of how an institute of national importance has to be run. So I would expect that other good institutions should emulate the IITs and try to run as efficiently as they do.

Thank you, Sir.

D Bandyopadhyay speaks during a discussion on construction of barrages on Mahanadi River affecting farmers

I have got three short questions. I don’t have a lengthy speech.

Question 1 (Centre-State and inter-State relations)

There is a 1983 water-sharing agreement between the States of Odisha and Madhya Pradesh dealing with the arrangement on Mahanadi River. Now, at the behest and the request of the Chhattisgarh Government, this inter-State agreement is being encroached upon and bypassed by the Centre. There is a breakdown of all the principles of federalism enshrined in the Constitution – this is not cooperative federalism, of which we hear all the time, it is definitely a ‘not operative’ federalism.

Were consultations held with all relevant stakeholders, including officials from both State Governments, before the Centre decided on the matter? What were the inputs given by the Chhattisgarh Government that merited a unilateral move on the part of the Central Government?

Question 2 (on inter-State agreement)

Whether the State of Chhattisgarh is in breach of the inter-State contract signed in 1983 between Odisha and the undivided Madhya Pradesh? Does the Mahanadi basin fall within the ambit of this contract? What steps will be taken by the Centre to ensure that the spirit of federalism will be maintained between the two States in resolving this issue?

Question 3 (on CWC clearance and environmental assessment)

What is the nature of the project and whether Central Water Commission’s (CWC) clearance was obtained for the project? Has the Centre conducted any study to assess the environmental impact of constructing new barrage projects on the river Mahanadi and if so, are these studies available in the public domain?


D Bandyopadhyay’s remarks on the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Bill, 2016

Sir, as already stated in the Bill, India had entered into an agreement in 2006 with UNESCO regarding the establishment of the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Training and Education in India to serve the member countries of UNESCO. In the light of the agreement, the Central Government set up the Regional Centre for Biotechnology Training and Education in Faridabad, Haryana, through an executive order in 2009.

Now, this Bill seeks to provide legislative backing to the Regional Centre. It also confers upon it the status of an institution of national importance. Once it gets the recognition through this Bill as an institute of national importance, it would be empowered to impart scientific and technical education and also to grant degrees. It would also be able to facilitate transfer of technology and knowledge in the SAARC region and in Asia, and create a hub of biotechnology expertise and promote cooperation at the international level. I, on behalf of my Party, support this Bill.

D Bandyopadhyay speaks on the killing of woodcutters by Andhra Pradesh Police | Full Transcript

Full Transcript

Sir, I rise with heavy heart to speak on the issue of the killing of 20 woodcutters from Tamil Nadu by the Andhra Pradesh Police in the jungle. It is not a case of ordinary police firing. Every police manual of every State clearly lays down that in squashing of illegal mobs they should use the minimum force.

What we see is the use of maximum force. Twenty people were killed. Sir, it is a miniature Jallianwala Bagh. The difference is instead of a Britisher – General Dyer was an officer of the Colonial Power- we are killing our own people by our own armed forces. This is highly reprehensible.

Sir, in our State, we also witnessed such atrocities for a pretty long time. Police fired on peaceful farmers in Nandigram where 14 farmers were killed back in March, 2007. This resulted in such popular unrest that the government in power was voted out.

We have only one set version. We want to know the other version. The other version will never come because there is no one to tell the tale. Therefore we demand a judicial inquiry by a Supreme Court Judge or a Chief Justice of the High Court to look into the whole thing. We cannot allow such wanton killing and people involved to go unpunished.

Thank you very much.

D Bandyapadhyay makes Special Mention on adverse conditions of Kolkata Metro Railway | Transcript

Full transcript:

Kolkata Metro Railway has a number of problems. They relate to infrastructure, safety as well as delay. Incidents bear out the current state of affairs.

On February 12, 2012 passengers had to be evacuated as smoke blew out of the bottom of a metro coach. A similar incident occurred on August 30, 2012.

In 2014 similar incidents again occurred. June 23, 2014, 600 passengers were stuck in a dark metro tunnel for one hour. Again on July 31, 2014 smoke was detected in a rake.

These similar incidents have clearly jeopardised lives of people. Other infrastructure related problems are also happening frequently. For example, on September 26, 2014 metro was hit by auto-signaling failure. These infrastructure and safety related problems have also disrupted the schedule of people. Schedules went haywire.

Due to lack of proper maintenance, even minor issues have turned into major problems. Even when the fares have been increased in November, 2013 up to a substantial amount of maximum of 78%, the increased earnings have not translated into better functions.

Railways must immediately take up the problem faced by the Kolkata Metro and find a permanent solution. Efficiency of services and safety has been hallmark of the Metro Railway so far. The Government must ensure serious deficiencies are ironed out quickly, in a time bound manner.

Thank You.

D Bandyopadhyay speak on Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015 | Transcript

Full transcript:

I rise to support this Bill. This Bill brings e-carts and e-rickshaws under the ambit of Motor Vehicles Act for carrying goods and passengers. It also relaxes condition for obtaining license for a public service vehicle. To get a learner’s license for a public service vehicle you need one year experience of driving a light motor vehicle. This Bill relaxes that condition.

Possibility is that this Bill will result in employment for a large number of people. Drivers would now have a smooth transition from manual rickshaw to electric power seal-wheel vehicles.

In West Bengal our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has introduced a unique scheme that will bring 6000 manually‐pulled rickshaws in Kolkata under green rickshaw i.e. solar power e‐cart or e‐rickshaw to provide employment as well as to provide pollution free environment to our new generation.

Central Government should consider starting a scheme for providing easier loans to drivers so that they can procure e-carts, otherwise they will be debarred and new people will continue to use these e-carts.

D Bandhopadhay speaks on agricultural losses due to recent rains | Transcript

Full transcript:

Sir, we were told that Indian agriculture depended on vagaries of monsoon. With less than 50% of the arable land still remaining non-irrigated, late monsoon or scanty rainfall create drought conditions adversely affecting agriculture.

Similarly, heavy rainfall, particularly if it is untimely, causes equally adverse effect on agriculture. In the winter light rain fall is necessary before flowering of wheat and also potatoes, but if it rains heavily it becomes a curse.

This shower if it had happened earlier would have been highly welcomed by the farmers. Today it has become a curse for them. We do not have any firm figures and these are still being estimated, but the guess is it is going to be severe unless very strong sun comes out and brings relief. What is tragic is that good harvest is there, but we have lost out on it, like a boat having reached the shore but sinks.

Sir, states affected as per the information in the newspaper are northern parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Special assistance should be given to all farmers and it should be taken as a matter of force in future for all similar activities. The crops affected by the temperature collapse are; wheat, mustard, gram, potato, mango flowers, early mango in the western region, grape, cashew nut and orange.

So, this phenomenon reiterates the early need of Universal Crop Insurance. Without any cumbersome procedure those farmers whose names are in the record of the rights should be given compensation and the small insurance fee may be realised from them along with taxes so that no bureaucracy creates more hindrances.

Sir, with this, I would like that the Government takes steps for all the affected states and arrange for economic rehabilitation of those farmers who have lost their crop.

D Bandyopadhyay speaks on The Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Amendment Bill, 2014 | Transcript

I would request the Minister through you, Sir, that does he at least have an estimate of how much land or premises are in illegal occupation? We are passing a draconian law, but what are the facts about illegal occupation? We do not know its extent. So my first point and request is that the Hon’ble Minister, through his own machinery, finds out what is the total area (roughly) in illegal occupation.

Sir, the Bill expands the definition of public sector enterprises. Very large areas have been taken into account for this and the process of eviction has been made almost draconian. So I would request through you, Sir, that while there are good features in the Bill, the draconian features of the Bill be also looked into.

Therefore, may I, through you, suggest to the Government, that let the Bill be sent to the Select Committee of the House so that it can go through what all are happening and whether all the recommendations and observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court have been fully incorporated, and what should be done so that  public places  remain free of illegal occupation. But one should not throw away the baby with the bath water. So the main people should not suffer too much because of this law.

So through you, Sir, I make an appeal for sending the Bill to the Select Committee.