The probe report by the Lok Sabha Ethics Panel in the 'cash for query' case against Trinamool Congress Mahua Moitra will top the list of business, as the Parliament convenes for what promises to be a stormy Winter Session of Parliament on Monday.
The Bills to be tabled on the opening day of the Winter Session include one to regulate the appointments for the Chief Election Commission and other election commissioners.
The government held an all-party meeting on Saturday for the smooth functioning of the session, which will have 15 sittings between December 4 and December 22.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh chaired the meeting of floor leaders of political parties in both houses of Parliament.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi later told reporters that the government is always ready to discuss, on the floor of the House, any issue as permitted under the rules of the respective presiding officers.
He also requested all party leaders for active cooperation and support for the smooth functioning of the two Houses of Parliament."We have said that we are ready for discussion, but they will also have to follow the procedure for a structured debate. This is the last session of the 17th Lok Sabha. So there should be a structural debate. Our request is that the House run smoothly," he said.
The government has 21 Bills on its agenda for the session, including the bills to replace the IPC, the Indian Evidence Act and the CrPC.
Congress members said that they will raise issues concerning the people and demanded a discussion on the Ethics Committee report on allegations faced by Mahua Moitra.
"Congress does not believe in taking away the rights of Parliamentarians. Congress believes that the membership of those elected by the public should not be taken away by any committee. There should be a discussion on this," Congress member Pramod Tewari told the media.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party's NK Premachandran said there should be discussion on unemployment, price rises, and the Israel-Palestine conflict.
"Most of the members have raised objections against imposing Hindi in the criminal laws by giving new names to the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code as well as Indian Evidence Act. It is even very difficult to pronounce as far as the people belonging to South Indian states are concerned. The government has not responded. I hope that the House will go without any disruption," he said.
Sources said Trinamool Congress leaders said during the meeting that government does not share the full agenda at the all-party meeting and added that it "secretly added bills" in the middle of the last session.
They said that the three criminal law amendment bill should not be passed in the winter session as they have major ramifications. The bills should not be "bulldozed", the Trinamool Congress MPs are known to have said.
They demanded discussion on federal structure--MNREGA dues, health funds, alleged interference in states--and issues of unemployment and price rise.
The Trinamool Congress MP is known to have said that reports of Parliamentary committees should not be made public until tabled on the floor of the House.
They alleged that the latest report of the Ethics Committee is already exposed to the the media and said they were seeing reports in the media that one member of the Trinamool Congress is "going to be expelled."
The winter session will be held a day after the declaration of the results of assembly polls in five states: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Telangana. The outcome of the polls is expected to have resonance in the session.
Samajwadi Party MP Dr ST Hasan demanded a discussion on communal harmony in the country.
"Some people want to create division in society. Discussion should be done in Parliament on communal harmony. If communal harmony is absent, there will be nothing left in the country."
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) raised the demand for a caste census during the meeting.
BSP chief Mayawati, in a post on X, stated that her party conveyed that the central government should take 'immediate positive steps' in this regard. "In the all-party meeting today, before the winter session of Parliament, the BSP again demanded the government conduct a caste census in the country.
The central government must take immediate positive steps in this regard," she said in a post on X.
Mayawati said that the demand of the public for a caste-based census is giving 'sleepless nights' to the ruling party in the country.
"The unprecedented interest and awareness towards the caste census among the people of the country, who are the victims of casteist exploitation and atrocities and are suffering from inflation, poverty, unemployment, poor roads, water, electricity, education, health and law and order, is giving sleepless nights to the BJP and the Congress is busy covering up its crimes," she alleged.
The BSP supremo further said that the central government should ensure that people are given their rights in the true sense.
"Although various state governments are half-heartedly trying to satisfy the public sentiments to a great extent by conducting caste censuses in the name of 'social justice', its true solution is possible only when the central government conducts the correct caste census at the national level and ensures that people are given their rights," she added.
The Bills on the agenda of the government include The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023 The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023 and The Bhartiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023.
Opposition parties have opposed the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023.The Congress has alleged that the bill is a "blatant attempt" at making the poll watchdog a "total puppet in the hands of the Prime Minister".
Other bills on the government's agenda include The Repealing and Amending Bill, 2023 (passed by Lok Sabha), the Advocates (Amendment) Bill, 2023 and the Press and Registration of Periodicals Bill, 2023, which have been passed by Rajya Sabha.They also include Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Castes Order (Amendment) Bill, the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2023, Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, Boilers Bill, 2023, the Provisional Collection of Taxes Bill, the Central Goods and Services Tax (Second Amendment) Bill, Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization (Amendment) Bill, Government of Union Territories (Amendment) Bill, The National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill, Central Universities (Amendment) Bill and Post Office Bill.
Bills related to the first batch of supplementary demands for Grants for the years 2023-24 and demands for excess grants for 2020-21 are also on the agenda.
Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal, Congress MPs Jairam Ramesh and Pramod Tiwari, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha's Mahua Maji and TMC's Sudip Bandyopadhyay and Derek O'Brien were among the leaders present at the meeting.
Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has written a letter to Speaker Om Birla on the report of the Ethics Committee reportedly recommending the expulsion of Mahua Moitra in the cash-for-query case, saying that it would be an "extremely serious punishment and has very wide ramifications".
In the letter, the Congress leader said that as per the records, prior to Mahua's case, the Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha dealt with a miniscule number of cases, mainly pertaining to purported acts of deviation from the general norms of conduct, with the punitive action recommended being confined to admonition, reprimand and suspension from the sittings of the House for a specified period.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who is also chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said the views expressed by him are in his personal capacity.
"If the media reports on the recommendations of the Ethics Committee on choosing to recommend expelling Ms. Mohua Moitra from Parliament are right, it would, perhaps be the first such recommendation of the Ethics Committee of Lok Sabha. Expulsion from Parliament, you will agree Sir, is an extremely serious punishment and has very wide ramifications," he said.
The Ethics Committee, which probed the 'cash-for-query' allegations against Mahua Moitra, is slated to lay its report in Lok Sabha on the first day of the winter session of Parliament on December 4.
The listed agenda of Lok Sabha for December 4 mentions that Vinod Kumar Sonkar and Aparjita Sarangi will lay the "First Report (Hindi and English versions) of the Committee on Ethics" on the table.
Lok Sabha Ethics Committee had last month submitted its draft report connection with the 'cash-for-query' case to Speaker Om Birla. Sources said the committee had recommended the expulsion of Moitra.