Saugata Roy speaks on the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015 | Full Transcript

Full Transcript

Sir, I rise to speak on the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015. I am opposed to the Bill. This is an effort to dilute the basic concept of whistle blowers. This is the way Governments work these days.

Now what is the hurry of bringing the Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill on the last day? The reason is that the Opposition had attacked the Government on its false promises of transparency. The same day, the Cabinet met and passed the amendment which effectively dilutes the scope of the Whistle Blowers Protection Act.

The reactions of the Government are generally knee-jerk. They act immediately. If somebody mentions about a food park, one Minister will make five interventions. So, they are reacting in a knee-jerk fashion. This is not the way the Government should function.

Let me go back a little to the background of the original Bill on Whistle Blowers. Now in the West, whistle blower protection has been there throughout. In the United States, it was through the constitutional provision as well as other statutes. In the UK, there is the Public Interest Disclosure Act, 1998 and the Employment Rights’ Act, 1996. The UK Whistle Blower law providing protection to employees reporting on their employers underwent a change due to the June 2013 amendment.

The main change to the law is that any disclosure must be in the reasonable belief of the workers be of public interest. Now in India, why did the question of protection whistle blowers arise? When Shri A.B. Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, one Shri Satyendra Dubey, an employee of the NHAI was killed after he wrote a letter to the Office of the Prime Minister about corruption in the construction of National Highways. His letter to the Prime Minister was circulated routinely. It reached the hands of those criminals and he was killed. Two years later, an Indian Oil Corporation officer Shri Shanmughan Manjunath was murdered for sealing a petrol pump which was selling adulterated fuel. In May, 2012, Shri S.P. Mahantesh was murdered for reporting irregularities in land allotment by the society.

As a result, after especially the Satyendra Dubey incident, our Supreme Court pressed the Government for issuing an Office Order about the Public Interest Disclosures and Protection of Informers Resolution, 2004 designating the Central Vigilance Commission as the nodal agency to handle any complaints of corruption. The RTI Act, 2005 was the legislation for holding the Government accountable. The the Whistle Blowers’ Protection Bill, 2011 was passed in the Lok Sabha. Later it was passed in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill aimed to protect honest officials or persons from harassment but did not provide for any penalty for harassing a public servant. The CVC was the competent authority under the original law.

The Whistle Blowers Protection Act 2011 sought to establish a mechanism to receive complaints relating to disclosure on any allegation of corruption and wilful misuse of power against a public servant only. What the present Bill moved by hon. Minister Dr. Jitendra Singh does is to take out almost 11 items out of the purview of the Whistle Blowers Protection Act, all in the name of national security.

Major cases of corruption in defence sector were exposed by whistle blowers. Scams relating to Scorpene submarine, Tatra truck, Augusta Westland helicopter all have been exposed by whistle blowers. It has been seen that corruption takes place mainly in defence deals. Is the Government worried that there is something wrong with the Rafale deal now and that is why they are quickly putting a lid on any disclosure? This is what I am worried about.

The basic idea that we should have a clean and transparent administration, and that the people who expose corruption at official levels should be protected by the Government is being given up. If you do not do it in the case of defence sector, then where do you protect the whistle blowers is the question I pose to Dr. Jitendra Singh.

Basically this law is bad in word as well as in practice. I will mention the comments made by some people. “However, in the garb of protection it tends to limit that and the purpose for which the law is being introduced stands defeated. The solution for the apprehension would be to build a mechanism in the Act which protects or keeps classified any disclosure that could be against national interest”. The Government could have done that. Instead it is saying that all this is out of the purview of the Bill.

One has to realise that the Act has come into place to disclose acts related to corruption and misuse of power which are against the national interest. Now corruption is also against the national interest. How many clauses have been introduced in the Bill to so-called protect national interests? Eleven items have been taken out of the Bill. Information and disclosure affecting sovereignty and integrity of India, information which is forbidden to be published, information which will cause a breach of privilege, information relating to commercial confidence – that is transactions between companies, trade secrets or intellectual property – information which is available to a person in his fiduciary capacity, information received in confidence from a foreign government, etc., are totally excluded from the Whistle Blowers Protection Act.

What remains, Dr. Singh? Do you want to do away with the Whistle Blowers Protection Act? Do you want to do away with the Right to Information Act? What else? You wanted to do away with the Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act by introducing amendment after amendment. What is the hurry in introducing these amendments? I would like to understand that.

Sir, the democracies of the West which are supposed to be models of democracy are also afraid of whistle blowers. We all know of Julian Assange who started the Wikileaks. I have been told by some journalist friends that all cables including the cables between the Indian Embassy, US Embassy in India and State Department etc., were leaked by Assange. He had to go through severe prosecution. He had to take shelter in a hotel near the Moscow airport. Even the American Government was after him. Then, we have the case of Snowden. For more than one year, the man who exposed corruption in high places in the US Defence Department was held up in Ecuador Embassy in London. Why? He exposed certain dealings in American Defence establishment. We do not want to go into that. We are a free society.

That is why I request that we should not press for passing this Bill on the last day. In any case, it will not be passed by the other House. Please withdraw it and prove that you are committed to transparency in Government transaction. In the name of national interest, do not take away the right of the whistle blowers who want to expose corruption in high places. Please do not put their lives at risk. With these words, I oppose the Bill. I wish I had given many amendments, and then I would have taken vote on every amendment.

Saugata Roy speaks on the Appropriation Act (Repeal) Bill, 2015 | Full Transcript

Full Transcript

I thank the Minister for making the effort to bring this Bill. This is an example of how government work piles up and multiplies. Every Act that we pass in Parliament has to be printed in the central laws book. Not only does the government publish central law books but also private publishers publish central law books. Uselessly these Appropriation Acts are included.

Madam, as you know, no government can spend money out of the Consolidated Fund of India unless it is appropriated by a proper an Appropriation Act. The validation of the Appropriation Act is only for one year. At the end of the financial year the Appropriation Act ends.

Over the years there are four appropriations taken in the House. If you recollect Ma’am, one is the Vote-on-Account Appropriation. The second is the actual Appropriation. Then there is Railway Vote-on-Account Appropriation. Then there is the Railway Appropriation Bill. So, four appropriations are being done per year.

From 1950 all these appropriations are there in the Statute books and the thick central laws book that is published. Nobody cared to repeal them before. In 1998 there was a committee to study government functioning. They recommended that all this should be abolished or repealed. Then the Law Commission also said these laws must be repealed. A Standing Committee of the Rajya Sabha went into the mater. They recommended that there should be an automatic repeal clause at the end of the Appropriation Act.

Now, we have studied in the objects and reasons that the Minister has mentioned about Australia and UK. Australia has an automatic repeal clause. It’s a Commonwealth country. UK repeals them in parts from time to time. So far we are following the UK method in which we shall repeal clauses.

Many states come under the President’s rule. Up to 1976, before the 42nd amendment, the budgets of the states under President’s rule had also to be appropriated in the Parliament as a result of which those were also added. So, altogether there are 758 such Appropriation Acts out of which 11 are related to State Appropriation Acts.

Now we are going to repeal all this at one go. The Minister has earlier also taken some initiative in repealing outdated laws. You see the Indian Penal Code is from 1860. All our laws are from British era. There are Police Acts and hundreds of Acts which have become redundant. A study should be made or the Law Commission report should be sought for and these useless Acts should be repealed from our Statute books.

Ultimately Madam, the laws have to go online. If you go to a lawyer’s chamber he asks you for fees depending on how many law books are there in his chamber. There is no necessity for this. All the laws can go online. Anybody can have access without buying these costly law books.

I would like the Minister to simplify our laws; simplify the law making procedure and simplify the whole system so that the common man need not interact with the legal system through lawyers only. For simple laws the common man should know his rights.

I am glad that the Law Minister has started this initiative. I think in the coming days this archaic language of the laws would be done away with. Modern language should be brought in and all useless laws should be repealed from the statute books.

With these wprds, I support the Bill.

Saugata Roy opposes the introduction of Land Bill in Lok Sabha | Full Transcript

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Under rule 72 of the Rules of Procedure, I move to oppose the introduction of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlements (Amendment) Bill, 2015.

The Bill takes away the chapter on social impact assessment as well as the chapter on food security in case of certain land acquisitions. This Bill is against the interests of farmers and has been opposed by all opposition political parties and farmers’ organisations. Hence it should be opposed tooth and nail by everybody who has farmers’ interest at heart.

The Bill also takes away the right of consent of the farmers. Where 80% consent of the farmers was needed for land acquisition for a private party that has also been removed for certain land acquisitions. Madam, this Bill shows how a Bill should not be put. A Bill was passed in Parliament in 2013; even the BJP party had supported the Bill at that time. The government brings a second amendment and because of the majority they pass it in Parliament. The Lok Sabha passes it and it is not even taken up in Rajya Sabha. After the session is adjourned briefly, the government issues an ordinance. Then it has again brought a Bill to support it.

This tortuous process of legislation is something that should not be happening. We feel unhappy that steps have been taken by the government against the farmers. The steps are being taken by the government to run the country by an ‘Ordinance Raj’. This is a second time an ordinance has been introduced.

Hence Madam, with all the force at my command I oppose the introduction of this anti-farmer Bill which takes away from the farmers, their own right to give consent for their land acquisition. It also takes away their right to have a social impact assessment on their land acquisition and also the minimum provisions for ensuring food security.

We had opposed even in 2013 when the government had imposed the 80% consent clause. Trinamool Congress had said that we want 100% consent of farmers for land acquisition for private parties as we had done during the Singur agitation.

It has been a matter of principle and a matter of faith for our party and we shall continue to oppose any attempts to tweak the Land Acquisition Bill in favour of the big businesses which this government is trying to cater to.

TMC opposes the introduction of Land Bill in Lok Sabha

Trinamool Congress today vociferously opposed the introduction of the Land Bill in Lok Sabha. Speaking on behalf of the party, Saugata Roy said Trinamool was always opposed to anti-farmer legislation.

Citing the party’s role in Singur land agitation, Saugata Roy said this Land Bill is favourable for big businesses and was against the interest of farmers. “The Bill does not have provisions for social security assessment. It has no provision for food security,” he said.

He accused the government of ruling through Ordinance Raj.

Speaking after him, leader of the party in Lok Sabha, Sudip bandyopadhyay said that in 2013 Trinamool was the only party to vote against the UPA’s land bill. He said the current Bill does not have any provision for taking consent of farmers.

Saugata Roy speaks on the earthquake tragedy in Nepal and India | Full Transcript

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Madam, I am drawing the attention of the House to the terrible human tragedy that happened in our neighbouring country of Nepal on the 25 April, 2015.

The earthquake with the epicentre near Pokhra in Nepal caused by shifting of tectonic plates in Himalayas has caused immense damage in that country with number of deaths crossing 2400 and 1000 injured. Huge amount of property has been destroyed in that country. It is good that Government of India has sent rescue teams with relief materials to Nepal through the Indian Air Force as a humanitarian gesture.

The earthquake has also affected India. At least 63 people are dead – 46 in Bihar, 13 in UP, 2 each in West Bengal and Rajasthan.One hundred and fifty six people have been injured in Bihar, 43 in UP and 52 in West Bengal and also some in Sikkim. The Government of India has been in touch with these States for relief. More needs to be done in the form of disaster relief.

The West Bengal Chief Minister has gone to north Bengal, where the earthquake happened, to supervise relief and rescue operations.

We are told that the National Disaster Management Authority is supervising relief work in Nepal and in India. But I would like to know how much money has been released from National Disaster Relief Fund for different states.

Madam, earthquakes cannot be prevented. There are large numbers of high-rises as well as illegal construction. The Government should examine whether these buildings are earthquake-resistant and whether proper disaster management teams are in place in the big cities which will be affected more by the earthquake.

I express deep sorrow at the deaths including those who died at the Everest Base Camp.


Our prayers are with the people of Nepal: Trinamool in Parliament

Trinamool Congress today expressed grief and sorrow at the immense loss of life and property in Nepal and parts of India due to the earthquake on 25 April, 2015.

During a discussion in both Houses of the Parliament, Derek O’Brien and Saugata Roy extended solidarity with the people of Nepal in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha respectively.

“The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was dissolved. Out of a board of 12 odd members, only three members have been appointed so far. My humble suggestion to the government is not to keep those seats vacant,” Derek O’Brien said.

He added that the formula to handle such situations was PIC – Preparedness, Infrastructure and Communication. While the communication on government’s part was satisfactory, a lot was needed to be done in preparedness, he opined.

Click here to read the full transcript of his speech


In Lok Sabha, Saugata Roy said that huge loss of life and properties has happened in Nepal. It is good Indian govt has sent relief material to Nepal. He appreciated the central government’s role in relief operations but said a lot more could be done.

He also wanted to know from the government how much funds have been released from the National Disaster Relief Fund.

Click here to read the full transcript of his speech


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