01 March, 2021

They Don’t Fit The Bill

MPs’ individual efforts for progressive laws lose sting due to government apathy

Rainbow Nation
Activists protest in demand of equal rights for transgenders.
Photograph by PTI
They Don’t Fit The Bill

When Parliament approved a new law for protection of transgender rights on November 26, it was a moment of personal triumph for DMK lawmaker Tiruchi Siva who had moved a private member’s bill on similar lines in 2015. Siva’s propsal had the distinction of being the first private member’s bill in 45 years to be passed by Rajya Sabha though it did not get Lok Sabha’s approval and lapsed. Four years later, the government pushed through the  Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2019.   

The private member’s bill holds a unique place in India’s legislature—often heard, hardly discussed and rarely passed. They are so named as they are proposed by parliamentarians who are not ministers.  These bills can become law if approved by both houses of Parliament. And therein lies the problem. The last private member’s bill passed by both Houses was almost half-a-century ago, in 1970. Most of the bills bec­ame law during Jawaharlal Nehru’s government and the first private member’s bill to...

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