Year-Ender 2023: Indian democracy marks milestone with new parliament

The Women's Reservation Bill became the first bill introduced and passed in the new Parliament, while other bills and a security breach also took place.
Year-Ender 2023: Indian democracy marks milestone with new parliament
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

In 2023, while achieving a significant milestone with the successful Chandrayaan-3 mission to the moon, India faced disappointment in the cricket World Cup. A pivotal moment unfolded on May 28 when democracy marked a new chapter with the inauguration of the new Parliament Building.

As reported by ANI, the original Parliament House in India, crafted by British architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, stands as a colonial-era structure that underwent a six-year construction period from 1921 to 1927.

Originally designated as the Council House, the building functioned as the residence for the Imperial Legislative Council.

The demand for a replacement Indian Parliament building had been overdue for quite some time.

As per government records, the existing structure suffers from limited seating capacity for Members of Parliament, deteriorating infrastructure, outdated communication systems, safety issues, and insufficient workspace for employees.

The existing Parliament building raises concerns about its structural safety, especially given that it was constructed during a period when Delhi was classified as Seismic Zone-II. However, the current seismic classification for the region is Seismic Zone IV.

The Lok Sabha Hall now boasts an increased capacity of 888 seats, and the Rajya Sabha Hall has also been expanded to accommodate up to 384 members. This enlargement facilitates joint sessions of Parliament, providing a combined seating capacity of up to 1,272 seats and promoting a more inclusive assembly during such sessions.

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Year-Ender 2023: Indian democracy marks milestone with new parliament

On September 19, the proceedings of the House commenced, marked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading a walkathon of MPs from the old building to the new Parliament building.

PM Modi in his inaugural speech said that this building is new, everything here is new, all the arrangements are new, and all the colleagues are in new attire.

“Everything is new, but amidst all this, there is also a symbol of a great legacy that connects the past and the present. It's not something new; it's old. It bears witness to the first rays of freedom which are present among us even now. It connects us to our rich history. And as we enter the new Parliament, it bears witness to the first rays of freedom, which will inspire future generations. It is the sacred Sengol which was first received by Pandit Nehru, the country's first Prime Minister. With this Sengol, Pandit Nehru performed the ritual and initiated the celebration of independence," he said.

"Therefore, this very significant past is connected with this Sengol. It is also a symbol of Tamil Nadu's great tradition, as well as symbolizing the unity of the nation. And today, the Sengol which adorned the hands of Pandit Nehru becomes the source of inspiration for all of us, What greater pride can there be than this?" he added.

The project faced opposition criticism, with Congress leader Jairam Ramesh describing it as 'Modi Multiplex.'

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Year-Ender 2023: Indian democracy marks milestone with new parliament

“The new Parliament building launched with so much hype actually realises the PM's objectives very well. It should be called the Modi Multiplex or Modi Marriot. After four days, what I saw was the death of confabulations and conversations--both inside the two Houses and in the lobbies. If architecture can kill democracy, the PM has already succeeded even without rewriting the Constitution," Jairam Ramesh said on X.

With the Parliament shifting from the old building to the new building, Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested that the building, where meetings of the Constituent Assembly were held to frame the Constitution, should be known as 'Samvidhan Sadan'.

"I have a suggestion. Now, when we are going to the New Parliament, its (Old Parliament building) dignity should never go down. This should not be left just as the Old Parliament building. So, I urge that if you agree, this should be known as 'Samvidhan Sadan'," he said.

Amidst these developments, the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam bill, also known as the Women's Reservation bill, achieved the distinction of being the first bill introduced in the new Parliament and successfully passed in both houses.

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Year-Ender 2023: Indian democracy marks milestone with new parliament

The Lok Sabha approved the bill on September 20, following a division in which 454 members voted in favor of the legislation, while two opposed it during the passage motion. Opposition members' proposed amendments were rejected, and there was also a vote on various clauses of the bill.

The Women's Reservation Bill received unanimous approval in the Rajya Sabha, with 214 members voting in favour and none against.

The bill secured passage in both houses with a majority of the total membership and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members "present and voting."

On December 18, the Rajya Sabha also passed two separate bills related to Jammu and Kashmir. The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Second Amendment) Bill, 2023, aimed to amend the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, and had already been passed by the Lok Sabha.

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Year-Ender 2023: Indian democracy marks milestone with new parliament

The Government of Union Territories (Amendment) Bill, 2023 seeks to reserve 33 per cent of seats in the Jammu and Kashmir, and Puducherry Assemblies for women. It was alsi passed in the Lok Sabha in 2023 winter session.

With just months of its inauguration, during the Winter Session, the new Parliament witnessed the security breach that occurred on December 13, when two youths jumped into the Lok Sabha chamber during Zero Hour, setting off smoke cans and raising slogans.

A new record was set up in the new Parliament building in this Winter Session as three key Bills replacing the criminal laws were passed while 146 MPs were suspended over the ruckus created for demanding a statement from Union Home Minister Amit Shah over the Parliament security breach.

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Year-Ender 2023: Indian democracy marks milestone with new parliament

One hundred Members of Parliament were suspended from the Lok Sabha, while another 46 faced suspension from the Rajya Sabha due to their unruly behavior. They had disrupted proceedings by displaying placards and chanting slogans related to the breach issue.

Despite the disruptions, both houses successfully passed three criminal bills: the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita Bill, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha (Second) Sanhita Bill, and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Bill. These bills replaced the colonial laws, namely the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and the Evidence Act.

Piloting the three bills, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said it was the "beginning of a new era" as "the purpose of these bills is to give justice, not punishment."

"For the first time in history," Shah said, these bills were made by India and approved by the Indian Parliament for Indians."

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Year-Ender 2023: Indian democracy marks milestone with new parliament

"For the first time in history," Shah said, these bills were made by India and approved by the Indian Parliament for Indians."

Source: ANI

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