New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha on Friday passed a resolution expressing confidence in Prime Minister Narendra Modi and solidarity with steps being taken by the government to combat coronavirus.
Members of the Upper House pledged their support to the government in containing the spread of the virus.
Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said the government was leading by example in running Parliament so that the Budget is passed and also giving a message to masses that MPs were performing their duties towards the country.
He was responding to questions raised by senior Congress member Anand Sharma whether Parliament was above laws passed by it.
Sharma said, “We make country’s legislation. We are Parliament. Epidemic Act has been implemented in India.
Section 144 has been imposed in entire country. Restaurants are being closed. Government’s notification released by PIB yesterday says people above 65 should stay indoors. I want to ask whether exception is allowed. Can we say that we are above the law of India”.
“We tell the nation that respect the law. This Act has been implemented, has been notified but not implemented on us.
Here there are thousands of people who are getting exposed. I don’t want to make it a controversy,” Sharma said.
Responding to him, Goyal said the Epidemic Act and government notification exempts essential services and MPs are serving the nation like a doctor above the age of 65 is serving the nation.
“There is an exemption in the law for essential duties.
Parliament is also disposing its duties …Budget is there …Discussions are being done on demand of different ministries.Finance Bill from Lok Sabha will come to Rajya Sabha for discussion. That is also a responsibility,” Goyal stressed.
The minister said there are countries where budgets get lapsed but to ensure flow of funds post April 1, the MPs are working.
“In India we don’t do vote on account like previous system. Now the expenditure is made from April 1 as per budget. To pass budget is essential to run government.
Simultaneously a message goes to the people. It is a symbol of leadership. We are leading from the front. We are doing our duties and people are supporting us,” Goyal said.
Besides lauding doctors and health workers, Goyal also praised the role of media for helping disseminate information about the virus in a positive manner.
Earlier Deputy Chairman Harivansh said the world is battling coronavirus and India has taken all possible steps to contain it.
“The PM addressed the nation and boosted confidence of people that there is no reason to be afraid and appealed for precautions. He spoke about steps to prevent coronavirus. He appealed that people follow Janta Curfew on March 22. This House is with the resolution of the government that we all can tackle this problem. It expresses confidence,” he said as members passed a resolution to this effect.
Sharma earlier said said what example was Parliament setting about respect for laws of the land as both he and Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu were above 65 years of age and attending Parliament despite government’s notification.
“Yesterday, the govt has issued a notification. The Epidemic Act has been invoked in Delhi and in the rest of the country. So whether the Parliament is exempt from the laws which Parliament makes.
“All people above the age of 65 should not come out. I am above 65. Honourable Chairman is above 65. There are so many above 65. So, what example Parliament is setting about the respect for laws of the land and government’s notification,” Sharma said.
At this, the Chairman said rule was not applicable to government personnel who are on duty.
“God bless you, Nothing will happen to me and to you,” he said.
Sharma had earlier accused the prime minister, his ministers and MPs of violating government rules.