The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015, is unlikely to be passed in the ongoing winter session of Parliament despite Opposition Congress favouring its provisions.
The bill, which recently got the Cabinet’s approval, was scheduled to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha this week. However, it could not be done due to huge protests by members of the Congress, BJD, Shiv Sena and TMC on the National Herald and other issues, disrupting the functioning of Parliament. It will now be scheduled next week.
As the Congress refuses to let up on its protest in Parliament that has caused disruptions to House business, the party’s general secretary Digvijaya Singh challenged Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu’s claim that the Opposition was stalling the bills and were not willing to give their support.
Singh explained that the Congress will support key legislations like Real Estate Bill when they are tabled in the House for discussion. “Rahul Gandhi has been vociferously supporting this legislation. It protects home buyers and owners who have been duped by builders. I think it is a very useful bill. It must be passed immediately. I have written a letter to the Prime Minister on this issue and want it to be tabled in Parliament,” Digvijaya Singh, who is also a Rajya Sabha member, told The Sunday Guardian.
Asked whether the Congress is satisfied with the draft bill approved by the Union Cabinet, Singh said: “If it is in totality the bill that the Select Committee had recommended, I think we will support it because Rahul Gandhi has been advocating for the cause of the flat owners. If there is any alteration, we will hear it and try that it gets passed in this session.”
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi dated 4 December 2015, Digvijay Singh wrote, “The Real Estate Bill impacts the lives of millions of home buyers who invest their life savings for a roof of their own. Millions of home buyers across the country are suffering at the hands of unscrupulous and fly-by-night builders in the absence of a regulatory mechanism for the real estate sector. It is necessary this Bill be considered a top priority and enacted in this ongoing winter session itself. I request you that this consumer protection bill is implemented and enacted immediately.”
Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu appealed to Congress members to abstain from disrupting House business over the National Herald case, arguing that it will affect passage of key bills that were introduced in the Congress’ tenure.
“It’s not a favour to anyone. It’s not a favour to the Prime Minister, it’s not a favour to BJP, but it is a duty cast on all of us to see that Parliament functions meaningfully,” Naidu said outside Parliament. He recently told a group of home buyers that they should get the support of the opposition. Before that, the Cabinet will not give its approval.
Although the trend of protests in the Parliament this week gives little hope that the bill will see the light of the day soon, the stand of the Congress certainly challenges Naidu’s claims that the Opposition was stalling its passage.
The Real Estate Regulator bill was first introduced in the Rajya Sabha in August 2013. The BJP-led NDA government moved certain amendments in April this year. After allegations of the Bill being diluted, it was referred for review to a 21-member Select Committee.
On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet gave its nod to an amended draft of the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill, 2015, carving a way for a similar regulator like the ones present in sectors like telecom, securities, banking and insurance. The Real Estate Bill, if passed, will provide a regulatory body to settle disputes between home buyers and builders while laying down necessary guidelines for fair trade practices in the real estate sector.