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Budget session not likely before February 20

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, DEC. 30. The Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs will finalise the dates for the budget session.

In any case, the session will not begin before February 20, according to the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Mr. Azad indicated here today that in the second half of the session in April-May — after the recess — important Bills, including the National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, the Right to Information Bill, the Contempt of Courts (Amendment) Bill, the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Bill and the Prevention of Child Marriage Bill, were expected to be enacted.

The parliamentary committees to which these Bills had been sent to would complete their work by then. The ordinance to amend the Patent Act would be replaced by legislation.

The first half of the session is normally devoted to the President's address to the joint session of Parliament and the motion of thanks that follows, the laying on the table of the Economic Survey, the presentation of the Railway budget and the debate on it, and the presentation of the Union budget and the debate that follows.

`Productive, peaceful'

Mr. Azad earlier indicated that the "sacrosanct" date for the presentation of the Union budget, February 28, would not be disturbed, but there could be some adjustments for the Railway budget due to the Assembly elections in three States.

Describing the 23-day winter session with just 17 sittings as "very intense, productive and relatively peaceful," Mr. Azad said that it was not the duration of a session that mattered but the involvement of members and the absence of disruptions. In the short session, as many as 12 Bills were passed by both Houses, 30 Bills were introduced and a record 17 calling attention motions — 15 in the Lok Sabha and two in the Rajya Sabha — were taken up. Besides, seven full-length discussions took place and four short discussions.

It was "not true" that the Government did not have enough business. Six Bills were passed to replace ordinances and six other Bills were also passed.

The agenda decided unanimously by the Business Advisory Committees of the two Houses was dealt with "a hundred per cent," he said. He thanked the members of the ruling United Progressive Alliance, the Opposition National Democratic Alliance and other parties and groups for their active cooperation.

A first in the winter session was the decision to telecast the entire day's proceedings of both Houses of Parliament from December 14.

This, Mr. Azad hoped, will encourage more meaningful discussions of issues of the public interest and have a positive impact on the conduct and behaviour of MPs and on the legislative business to be conducted.

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