The UDF on Thursday stormed out of the House protesting the Speaker's arbitrary move to disallow 600-odd amendments opposition members had proposed for the University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
Speaker M B Rajesh said that the amendments were rejected because they came after the deadline set by the Legislature Secretariat.
He said the natural calamity in mid-October and the decision to do away with sittings on three days last week had forced the Legislature Secretariat to reschedule the Assembly proceedings. Accordingly, the deadline to submit amendments to the University Laws was fixed at noon, October 26.
"Even then, we extended the deadline to 2 pm and accepted even those amendments submitted by 4 pm," the Speaker said. He said the rejections came after 5 pm. "The Legislature Secretariat could not have processed these late amendments even if the employees had sat through the night," the Speaker said.
However, Opposition Leader V D Satheesan alleged that amendments submitted even between 2 pm and 4 pm were also rejected. The Speaker did not respond to this.
Satheesan said the Opposition members had worked hard to come up with these amendments. "What law are you trying to make without considering the amendments brought in by the Opposition," he said.
He then told the Speaker that the UDF would cooperate with the legislative business if the Opposition amendments were accepted. Satheesan wanted the University Laws (Amendment) Bill to be considered another day.
The University Laws Bill deals with radical changes in the functioning of autonomous colleges.
The Speaker, however, expressed his helplessness. "We don't have the leisure to keep postponing the session," he said.
Former Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala was also seen pleading with the Speaker. "These members had worked hard to come up with these amendments. Why do you hold on to such an adamant stand," Chennithala said.
The Speaker replied that he was not being adamant. "It is practically not possible," he said. "You also cannot charge me with injustice. In this session itself there was a day when the House considered 1,500 amendments," he said.
With the Speaker not budging from his position, Satheesan declared a walkout. The law-making continued in the absence of the Opposition.
In addition to the University Bill, four other bills were taken up in the Assembly on Thursday.