Today, Lok Sabha took up discussion on the Finance Bill. This
Finance Bill, a money bill, includes various tax proposals presented in the
Budget. A money Bill does not require to be passed by the Upper House.

Before the debate began,
two chapters, related to Public Debt Management Agency and Forward Contracts
Regulation, which amended the Government Securities Act, the Forward Contracts Regulation
Act and the RBI Act, were removed from the Bill. Several members raised concerns,
highlighting that this Bill should not contain non taxation proposals. Members
pointed out that while all money bills are finance bills, all finance bills are
not necessarily money bills. Members felt that this Finance Bill included
financial matters outside the definition of ‘money bill’ as per Article 110 of
the Constitution. Hence such provisions in the Bill would need to be passed by
Rajya Sabha as well. Members stated that inclusion of provisions regarding benefits
to senior citizens, prevention of money laundering were beyond the mandate of
this finance bill and the power of Rajya Sabha to legislate on these issues
should not be curtailed.

The Minister argued that as per Article 110 (1) (b), ‘money bills’
can contain amendments to a law with respect to ‘financial obligations’ and
hence these were within the purview of the Bill.

The Speaker finally ruled that this Bill could be taken up for
detailed discussion. The Bill with 41 amendments was passed by the lower house.

Week Wrap:

During the week, financial business continued to be the focus in
both the Houses. While Lok Sabha discussed Demands for Grants of Ministries,
Rajya Sabha undertook discussion on the Working of Ministries.

The Lower House completed discussion on the Demands for Grants of four
Ministries.  These were the Ministries of
Human Resource Development, Home Affairs, Environment, Forests and Climate
Change, and Health and Family Welfare.

The Demands for Grants were in total voted upon on Wednesday and
the Appropriation Bill for the same was passed.  Of the total demands for grants voted upon,
92% of the demands were guillotined while 8% of the demands were discussed.

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With the passage of the Finance Bill in Lok Sabha today, all
financial business in the house has been completed.

Rajya Sabha began discussion on the Working of Ministries this
week. Members extensively discussed the working of the Law and Justice
Ministry.

In terms of legislation, Rajya Sabha passed the Warehousing Corporation(Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Regional Rural (Amendments) Bill, 2014. Both Bills
have been passed by Lok Sabha previously.

The Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial
Appellate Division of High Courts Bill, 2015 was introduced in the Upper House
this week. The Bill permits state governments to set up courts at the district
level and commercial divisions in certain High Courts to hear commercial disputes
of a value of Rs. 1 crore or more.

The debate on the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Bill,2013 was scheduled on April 29, but was deferred as members sought more time to
examine the amendments brought in by the government to the Bill. It was decided
that the Bill would be moved after the Parliamentary Affairs Minister consulted
the members of the house about the same.

Productivity in both the houses has been high.  Productivity of the Session until Wednesday
in Lok Sabha was at 121% while in Rajya Sabha it was at 108%. During the
Session, Question hour in both the houses functioned for 87% of its scheduled
time as of yesterday.

Among important legislations, the Land Acquisition Bill remains
pending in Rajya Sabha. The ordinance on land acquisition is currently in force
and will expire on June 4. It remains to be seen if the Upper House will pass
the Bill in the upcoming sittings left in this Session. Rajya Sabha is
scheduled to sit until May 13.

 

The Constitutional Amendment (GST) Bill, 2014 also remains to be
taken up though it has been on the list of business for Lok Sabha during this
week. With the completion of financial business in the Lower House, the Bill may
be taken up during the upcoming week. 
Lok Sabha is scheduled to sit until May 8.

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