New Delhi, August 11: A Bill to allow the privatisation of state-run general insurance companies got parliamentary assent on Wednesday after Rajya Sabha passed it with a voice vote amid tearing of papers and vociferous protest by opposition parties.
The General Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Amendment Bill, 2021 was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 2.
The upper house passed the legislation with a voice vote in the din, in a matter of minutes, with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman not replying to points raised by MPs briefly.
Opposition members from TMC to DMK to Left parties opposed the Bill and some wanted it to be referred to a select committee but the motion was rejected by a voice vote after which they indulged in slogan-shouting, stormed into the well, tore papers and moved dangerously close to the presiding officer's chair.
Rajya Sabha personnel were deployed around the presiding officer and the house table to prevent repeat of Tuesday's ugly scenes when some MPs had climbed on the table.
The Bill was taken in the upper house soon after it passed the Constitutional Amendment Bill about the OBC list. The Constitution Amendment Bill was passed after a nearly five-hour discussion in an amicable settings in the House, which otherwise had witnessed disruptions since the start of the monsoon session on July 19.
However, the mood changed soon after the passage of the OBC Bill, and the Opposition returned to the Well of the House leading to a brief adjournment. The chair was forced to adjourn the proceedings as opposition kept raising slogans and threw papers in the air.
When the House re-assembled at 6.26 pm, some MPs spoke briefly on the insurance bill amid uproar, while speakers from the opposition benches chose not to. In the meanwhile, Tiruchi Siva (DMK) moved a motion to send the Bill to a select committee of the Rajya Sabha, but it was rejected by a voice-vote.
The Bill was passed amid the ruckus even as the Finance Minister did not dwell on the Bill.
According to the statement of objects and reasons of the general insurance amendment bill, it seeks to remove the requirement that the central government should hold not less than 51% of the equity capital in a specified insurer.
To provide for greater private participation in the public sector insurance companies, enhance insurance penetration and social protection, better secure the interests of policyholders and contribute to faster growth of the economy, it has become necessary to amend certain provisions of the act, according to the Bill.
The finance minister in the Budget 2021-22 had announced a big-ticket privatisation agenda which included two public sector banks and one general insurance company.
There are four general insurance companies in the public sector – National Insurance Company Limited, New India Assurance Company Limited, Oriental Insurance Company Limited and the United India Insurance Company Limited.