Parliamentary Committees Current Affairs - 2020

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Vice President unveils 15-point reform on Parliament Functioning

On October 29, 2019, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu unveiled a 15-point reform charter for a new political normal to enable effective functioning of the Parliament and State Legislatures.

The Charter

  • The pre and post Legislative Impact should be assessed
  • The functioning of Department related Standing Committees of Parliament should be ensured through longer tenures instead of reconstitution every year as at present. The recommendations to the committee should be based on academic backgrounds.
  • The minimum number of sittings for both the Parliament and State Legislatures per year should be approximately prescribed
  • The law makers should abide by the rules of the house. The political parties should take responsibility be enforcing a code of conduct
  • Rules should be framed that take automatic effect against erring members in case of interruptions and disruptions
  • The political parties should ensure at least 50% attendance of the members of legislatures everyday to address the issues of lack of quorum
  • The secretariats of legislatures should publish regular reports on the attendance of members during the proceedings.
  • The functioning of anti-defection law and whip system should be reviewed

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GM crops only after biosafety, socio-economic evaluation: Parliamentary Committee

The Parliamentary Standing Committee has recommended that no genetically modified (GM) crop should be introduced unless the biosafety and socio-economic desirability is evaluated in a transparent process. It also called for placing an accountable regime in this regard.

The recommendation was made by department-related parliamentary standing committee on science and technology and environment and forest in its 301st report on “GM crop and its impact on environment”.

Report Highlights

The Committee has also recommended that the Environment Ministry (MoEFCC) should examine the impact of GM crops on the environment thoroughly, in consultation with all stakeholders, so that all its probable effects are very clear.

It also noted that the GM crop regulator GEAC (Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee) gave its approval for commercialisation of GM mustard inspite of matter pending for decision in Supreme Court. It held that GM mustard being herbicide-tolerant GM organism (GMO), there are evidences on adverse impacts of such GMOs elsewhere in world.

Background

The Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP), Delhi University, had submitted an application to the GEAC for the environmental release of GM mustard hybrid DMH-11 and the use of parental events (EH2 mod bs 2.99 and varuna bn 3.6) for the development of a new generation of hybrids. The MoEFCC had received over 700 comments from various stakeholders, including farmers and researchers, on the Assessment of Food and Environmental Safety (AFES) report on GM Mustard.

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