CAS passage likely on 10 December, asserts Swaraj

NEW DELHI: Information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj has done it again. The government is confident that the process of implementation of the conditional access system (CAS) should get the nod of the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) of the Indian Parliament next week.

"CAS is coming up in the Rajya Sabha on 10 December and it should be passed," information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj told today afternoon.

Sounding absolutely confident of the passage of the amendments proposed in the Cable TV (Networks) Regulation Amendment Bill 2002, Swaraj said she does not foresee any opposition to the Bill in the Rajya Sabha now.

The Bill, which seeks to facilitate implementation of CAS and bring about addressability in Indian cable homes, has already been okayed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House) during the monsoon session itself. The Bill is now awaiting the rajya Sabha's nod before it is enacted into law.

Swaraj's assertive stance on CAS comes a day after the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), after initial reservations on CAS, made it public that it supports the government initiatives on CAS.

Asked whether she will be present during the introduction of CAS in the Rajya Sabha on 10 December as she is slated to tour the state of Gujarat from 8 December as part of election campaigning, Swaraj shot back, "But I am back in Delhi on the morning of 10 December."

The Rajya Sabha, where the government does not have a majority, has been a problem area for the government as far as CAS is concerned. The Opposition Members of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha --- mainly the Communist party of India (Marxist) and the Congress Party --- had been demanding that the issue of CAS be discussed thoroughly and, preferably, be referred to a parliamentary committee for more deliberations on the issue.

A senior RS partyman of the CPM, Nilotpaul Basu, had told recently that his party is for CAS to be referred to a parliamentary panel for more discussion on the issue. However, today Basu could not be contacted for comments on Swaraj's latest assertion on CAS.

The CAS issue had been listed on the agenda of the Rajya Sabha soon after Parliament reconvened for the Winter session on 18 November but could not be taken up for discussion for various reasons.

The government has also allotted a three-hour time in Rajya Sabha for discussions on CAS.

Finally, after a whole host of twists and turns, CAS looks on its way to becoming reality, though its actual implementation will take some more time. Unless of course something unforeseen happens next week that will again take precedence over CAS.

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