NEW DELHI: The Rajya Sabha Tuesday witnessed a ruckus over the land acquisition ordinance as opposition members demanded a discussion on the bill, leading to the suspension of the business of the house.
Heated arguments were witnessed between the ruling and opposition benches as the opposition alleged that the government was trying to bypass parliament while the government denied it.
"We have given a notice. The whole country is agitated against the ordinance, there are protests going on in Delhi," Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal said.
Deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha P.J. Kurien urged the members to discuss the matter when the bill on the ordinance comes to the house. "Ordinance has to be replaced by bill. When bill comes you can discuss."
Congress deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma slammed the government for trying to bypass parliament through an ordinance.
"We have given a notice under rule 267. The matter is serious enough to require suspension of business. The law passed by both houses of parliament was changed against the farmers," he said.
"We can't accept that the government will govern through ordinances overriding legislative scrutiny of parliament."
Leader of the House and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, however, said it was unfair to say the government was bypassing parliament.
"No law can bypass the house. My friend should remember 636 ordinances have come and 80 percent of them came when Anand Sharma's party was in government," Jaitley said.
"There were 70 ordinances passed by the government of first prime minister of India (Jawaharlal Nehru). When my communist friends had the United Front government, in 18 months 77 ordinances came... So saying that we bypassed parliament is not fair," the minister reminded the Rajya Sabha.
"In the last government, medical council ordinance was re-promulgated four times. representation of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes ordinance was re-promulgated three times," he said.
"This bill is listed in Lok Sabha today. Depending if it is passed, every argument can be raised when it comes to this house. But you cannot prevent Lok Sabha from discussing it," Jaitley added.
Congress leader Anand Sharma, however, argued that the ordinances brought by the UPA government were "people-friendly".
"We had to bring ordinances because your party did not allow the house to function," Sharma said alluding to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
"We had to bring ordinance on right to food bill... Which of your ordinances are people friendly?" he questioned.
As Kurien appeared ready to let the members speak on the issue, Jaitley maintained that the discussion should be held only when the land acquisition bill comes to the house.
"This bill is coming to the house or not is only anticipation. Leader of the house said it is in the other house, it maybe but the chair of this house does not know what is going to happen. Therefore there is no harm in having this discussion," Kurien said.
"I am giving only time of zero hour," he added.
Members were then allowed to speak on the issue.