Students, aged between 10 to 18 years, from all districts of Karnataka were at the Dr Annie Scouts and Guides State Training & Camping Centre, Doddaballapur for the 28th Karnataka State Jamborette, 2019 organised by the Bharath Scouts and Guides. The Jamborette was held between 29th December 2019 to 02nd January 2020 and hosted a range of physical, intellectual and cultural activities. The Centre for Law and Policy Research supported and organised the Youth Parliament on 30th December 2019.

The Youth Parliament aimed to familiarise the students with the procedures of the Parliament of India. Towards this, students acted out the various non-legislative and legislative business that takes place in the Lok Sabha.

The event was inaugurated by Mr Ramesh Kumar, a prominent politician and former speaker of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. He also delivered the Presidential address for the Youth Parliament. Mr Kumar traced the origins of the Parliamentary Democracy and gave a primer on the Indian Constitution-making process. He reminded the Student Parliamentarians that the Indian Constitution was the fundamental law of the nation and the Parliament’s business must always be carried out in spirit with it.

    

The student speakers then proceeded with the Question Hour where a member probed the Government regarding the increase in prices of the onions. After Obituary Reference and Papers to be laid, the Youth Parliament moved on to the legislative business. The Information and Broadcasting Minister introduced ‘Anti-Fake News Bill, 2019’ that became the central theme of the Parliament.

The Ministers made several speeches regarding the changing dimensions of news consumption, the need to regulate online media ecosystem and cited instances of violence based on fake news. They argued that the new Bill promised to curb these problems and further the mandate under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950 to protect and preserve life and liberty. However, the Opposition members viewed this as an opportunity to curb free speech and stifle dissent. They cited the example of a similar Singaporean law which was misused to suppress opposition voices.

After a series of speeches, when the Bill was put to vote, it was passed with overwhelming ‘Ayes’. The Youth Parliament was adjourned until the next Jamborette.

Through this activity, the students got a first-hand experience of the working of the Indian Parliament and got introduced to the deliberative process of law-making.

The Anti-Fake News Bill can be read here. The transcript of the session can be read here.